The Rcs phosphorelay: a complex signal transduction system

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2005;59:379-405. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.59.050405.101230.


RcsC, RcsB, and RcsA were first identified as a sensor kinase, a response regulator, and an auxiliary regulatory protein, respectively, regulating the genes of capsular polysaccharide synthesis. Recent advances have demonstrated that these proteins are part of a complex phosphorelay, in which phosphate travels from the histidine kinase domain in RcsC to a response regulator domain in the same protein; from there to a phosphotransfer protein, RcsD; and from there to RcsB. In addition to capsule synthesis, which requires the unstable regulatory protein RcsA, RcsB also stimulates transcription of a small RNA, RprA; the cell division gene ftsZ; and genes encoding membrane and periplasmic proteins, including the osmotically inducible genes osmB and osmC. The Rcs system appears to play an important role in the later stages of biofilm development; induction of Rcs signaling by surfaces is consistent with this role.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Capsules / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphotransferases / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Phosphotransferases