Functions of the CckA histidine kinase in Caulobacter cell cycle control

Mol Microbiol. 2003 Mar;47(5):1279-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2003.03379.x.


The CtrA master transcriptional regulator is a central control element in Caulobacter cell cycle progression and polar morphogenesis. Because of its critical role, CtrA activity is temporally regulated by multiple mechanisms including phosphorylation and ClpXP-dependent degradation of CtrA. The CckA histidine kinase is known to contribute to CtrA phosphorylation. We show here that genes differentially expressed in a ctrA temperature-sensitive (ts) mutant are similarly affected in a cckA ts mutant, that the phosphorylation of CckA coincides temporally with CtrA phosphorylation during the cell cycle, and that CckA is essential for viability because it is required for CtrA phosphorylation. Thus, it is the signal transduction pathway mediated by CckA that culminates in CtrA activation, which is temporally regulated and essential for cell cycle progression. CckA also positively regulates CtrA activity by a mechanism that is independent of CtrA phosphorylation. CtrA is more stable in the presence of CckA than it is absence, suggesting that CckA may also be involved, directly or indirectly, in the regulation of CtrA proteolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / cytology
  • Caulobacter crescentus / enzymology*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Polarity
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CtrA protein, Caulobacter
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Kinases
  • Histidine Kinase