Universally applicable methods for monitoring response regulator aspartate phosphorylation both in vitro and in vivo using Phos-tag-based reagents

Anal Biochem. 2008 May 1;376(1):73-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2008.02.004. Epub 2008 Feb 13.


Recent development of the phosphate chelator, Phos-tag, together with Phos-tag pendant reagents, has provided new methods for detection of phosphorylated serine, threonine, tyrosine, and histidine residues in phosphoproteins. We have investigated the use of Phos-tag for detection and quantification of phospho-aspartate in response regulator proteins that function within two-component signaling systems. Alternative methods are especially important, because the labile nature of the acylphosphate bond in response regulator proteins has restricted the application of many traditional methods of phosphoprotein analysis. We demonstrate that Phos-tag gel stain can be used to detect phospho-Asp in response regulators and that Phos-tag acrylamide gel electrophoresis can be used to separate phosphorylated and unphosphorylated forms of response regulator proteins. The latter method, coupled to Western blot analysis, enables detection of specific phosphorylated proteins in complex mixtures such as cell lysates. Standards of phosphorylated proteins can be used to correct for hydrolysis of the labile phospho-Asp bond that invariably occurs during analysis. We have employed Phos-tag methods to characterize the phosphorylation state of the Escherichia coli response regulator PhoB both in vitro, using purified protein, and in vivo, by analyzing lysates of cells grown under different conditions of induction of the PhoR/PhoB phosphate assimilation pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amides / metabolism
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphoric Acids / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation


  • Amides
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Phosphoric Acids
  • PhoB protein, Bacteria
  • Aspartic Acid
  • phosphoramidic acid