Two-component systems in Prochlorococcus MED4: genomic analysis and differential expression under stress

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 Sep 12;226(1):135-44. doi: 10.1016/S0378-1097(03)00587-1.


Two-component signal transduction systems, composed of histidine sensory kinases and response regulators, constitute a key element of the mechanism by which bacteria sense and acclimatize to changes in their environment. The availability of whole genome sequences permits a detailed analysis of these genes in cyanobacteria. In the present paper, we focus mainly on Prochlorococcus MED4, a strain adapted to surface oceanic conditions, for which six putative response regulators (rer) and five putative histidine kinases (hik) were identified. These numbers are comparable to those found in the other marine picocyanobacteria but much lower than those found in freshwater cyanobacteria. Moreover, the diversity of these genes is low in Prochlorococcus since most histidine kinases are related to a single group (type I) and most response regulators to a single family (OmpR). Under standard conditions, quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction revealed that one hik (hik03) and two rer (rer04 and rer05) genes were expressed at relatively high levels compared to the other two-component system genes. In response to high light exposure, a moderate increase (>5-fold) was observed in the expression of some putative rer genes (rer01, rer04, rer05, and rer06), whereas a smaller increase (<3-fold) in hik03 and hik04 mRNA levels was detected. In contrast, both cold and heat shocks decreased rather than increased the expression of most hik and rer genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics*
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Order
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genomics
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Light
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Temperature


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Protein Kinases
  • Histidine Kinase