Cyclic Diguanylate Is a Ubiquitous Signaling Molecule in Bacteria: Insights Into Biochemistry of the GGDEF Protein Domain

J Bacteriol. 2005 Mar;187(5):1792-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.187.5.1792-1798.2005.


Proteins containing GGDEF domains are encoded in the majority of sequenced bacterial genomes. In several species, these proteins have been implicated in biosynthesis of exopolysaccharides, formation of biofilms, establishment of a sessile lifestyle, surface motility, and regulation of gene expression. However, biochemical activities of only a few GGDEF domain proteins have been tested. These proteins were shown to be involved in either synthesis or hydrolysis of cyclic-bis(3'-->5') dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP) or in hydrolysis of cyclic AMP. To investigate specificity of the GGDEF domains in Bacteria, six GGDEF domain-encoding genes from randomly chosen representatives of diverse branches of the bacterial phylogenetic tree, i.e., Thermotoga, Deinococcus-Thermus, Cyanobacteria, spirochetes, and alpha and gamma divisions of the Proteobacteria, were cloned and overexpressed. All recombinant proteins were purified and found to possess diguanylate cyclase (DGC) activity involved in c-di-GMP synthesis. The individual GGDEF domains from two proteins were overexpressed, purified, and shown to possess a low level of DGC activity. The oligomeric states of full-length proteins and individual GGDEF domains were similar. This suggests that GGDEF domains are sufficient to encode DGC activity; however, enzymatic activity is highly regulated by the adjacent sensory protein domains. It is shown that DGC activity of the GGDEF domain protein Rrp1 from Borrelia burgdorferi is strictly dependent on phosphorylation status of its input receiver domain. This study establishes that majority of GGDEF domain proteins are c-di-GMP specific, that c-di-GMP synthesis is a wide-spread phenomenon in Bacteria, and that it is highly regulated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cyclic GMP / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cyclic GMP / biosynthesis
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism*
  • Cyclic GMP / physiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Bacterial / physiology
  • Phosphorus-Oxygen Lyases / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • bis(3',5')-cyclic diguanylic acid
  • Phosphorus-Oxygen Lyases
  • diguanylate cyclase
  • Cyclic GMP