Control of pilus expression in Neisseria gonorrhoeae as an original system in the family of two-component regulators

Mol Microbiol. 1991 Jan;5(1):137-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1991.tb01834.x.


We have previously reported the identification of two genes, pilA and pilB, which act in trans to regulate pilus expression in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Here we show that PilA and PilB have amino acid sequence similarities with members of the two component 'sensor-regulator' family of proteins. PilB has homology with histidine kinase sensors. Alkaline phosphatase fusions to the predicted sensor and transmitter domains are described. Their PhoA activity and cellular location suggest that PilB is inserted in the cytoplasmic membrane and predict periplasmic and cytoplasmic locations for the sensor and the transmitter domains, respectively. PilA has homology with response regulators in its N-terminal part, and with components of the eukaryotic protein secretory apparatus (SRP 54 and SRP receptor) as well as two Escherichia coli gene products in its C-terminal part. In particular, it contains a putative GTP-binding site. Mini-transposon insertions into different regions of pilA were obtained. The phenotypes and genotypes of these mutants and preliminary biochemical studies of the gene products of two of these mutants lend further support to the hypothesis that PilA is a DNA-binding response regulator and confirm that it participates in an essential function in the bacterium.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Fimbriae Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Regulator
  • Guanosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fimbriae Proteins
  • Guanosine Triphosphate
  • Oxidoreductases
  • pilB protein, Bacteria
  • Protein Kinases
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase