We recently described the ABC transporter Ngc (encoded by the ncgEFG operon) from Streptomyces olivaceoviridis, the first of its kind to be shown to transport N-acetylglucosamine and N,N'-diacetylchitobiose (chitobiose). A chromosomal mutant carrying a disruption of the ngcE gene, which encodes the sugar binding protein, was still able to transport N-acetylglucosamine. This phenotype can now be attributed to a functional phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP)-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS). Two adjacent homologous genes, ptsC1 and ptsC2, were identified, and deduced to encode proteins which are 56% identical and can be predicted to contain eight transmembrane regions. PtsC1 (432 amino acids) and PtsC2 (403 residues) each correspond to a single EIIC domain; such domains are otherwise known only in several bacterial multidomain permeases for glucose/mannose or N-acetylglucosamine. The C-terminal sequences of PtsC1 and PtsC2 correspond to the motifs LKTPGREP and LPTRGRES, respectively. The ptsB gene located upstream of ptsC1 is predicted to encode a homologue of the EIIB domains usually found in bacterial multidomain permeases. Physiological and biochemical analyses of ngcE mutants carrying disruptive insertions in ptsC1 or ptsC2 or both revealed that, when grown on N-acetylglucosamine, the membrane component PtsC2, unlike PtsC1, mediates PEP-dependent, specific (K(m)=5 micro M) transport of N-acetylglucosamine, but not of other hexoses. Cross-complementation of membrane and cytoplasmic fractions from the various mutants led to the conclusion that S. olivaceoviridis also expresses the functional soluble components HPr, EI and EIIA of the PTS system. During growth on xylose, uptake of this pentose occurred if ptsC1 or ptsC2 was intact, but not in a mutant containing disrupted forms of both genes.