Motivation: Sensory domains that are conserved among Bacteria, Archaea and Eucarya are important detectors of common signals detected by living cells. Due to their high sequence divergence, sensory domains are difficult to identify. We systematically look for novel sensory domains using sensitive profile-based searches initiated with regions of signal transduction proteins where no known domains can be identified by current domain models.
Results: Using profile searches followed by multiple sequence alignment, structure prediction and domain architecture analysis, we have identified a novel sensory domain termed FIST, which is present in signal transduction proteins from Bacteria, Archaea and Eucarya. Chromosomal proximity of FIST-encoding genes to those coding for proteins involved in amino acid metabolism and transport suggest that FIST domains bind small ligands, such as amino acids.