Structure of the conserved HAMP domain in an intact, membrane-bound chemoreceptor: a disulfide mapping study

Biochemistry. 2007 Dec 4;46(48):13684-95. doi: 10.1021/bi701832b. Epub 2007 Nov 10.


The HAMP domain is a conserved motif widely distributed in prokaryotic and lower eukaryotic organisms, where it is often found in transmembrane receptors that regulate two-component signaling pathways. The motif links receptor input and output modules and is essential to receptor structure and signal transduction. Recently, a structure was determined for a HAMP domain isolated from an unusual archeal membrane protein of unknown function [Hulko, M., et al. (2006) Cell 126, 929-940]. This study uses cysteine and disulfide chemistry to test this archeal HAMP model in the full-length, membrane-bound aspartate receptor of bacterial chemotaxis. The chemical reactivities of engineered Cys residues scanned throughout the aspartate receptor HAMP region are highly correlated with the degrees of solvent exposure of corresponding positions in the archeal HAMP structure. Both domains are homodimeric, and the individual subunits of both domains share the same helix-connector-helix organization with the same helical packing faces. Moreover, disulfide mapping reveals that the four helices of the aspartate receptor HAMP domain are arranged in the same parallel, four-helix bundle architecture observed in the archeal HAMP structure. One detectable difference is the packing of the extended connector between helices, which is not conserved. Finally, activity studies of the aspartate receptor indicate that contacts between HAMP helices 1 and 2' at the subunit interface play a critical role in modulating receptor on-off switching. Disulfide bonds linking this interface trap the receptor in its kinase-activating on-state, or its kinase inactivating off-state, depending on their location. Overall, the evidence suggests that the archeal HAMP structure accurately depicts the architecture of the conserved HAMP motif in transmembrane chemoreceptors. Both the on- and off-states of the aspartate receptor HAMP domain closely resemble the archeal HAMP structure, and only a small structural rearrangement occurs upon on-off switching. A model incorporating HAMP into the full receptor structure is proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs*
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / chemistry*
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • Disulfides / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Cell Surface


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Disulfides
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface