Conformational selection and substrate binding regulate the monomer/dimer equilibrium of the C-terminal domain of Escherichia coli enzyme I

J Biol Chem. 2012 Aug 3;287(32):26989-98. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.382291. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


The bacterial phosphotransferase system (PTS) is a signal transduction pathway that couples phosphoryl transfer to active sugar transport across the cell membrane. The PTS is initiated by the binding of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to the C-terminal domain (EIC) of enzyme I (EI), a highly conserved protein that is common to all sugar branches of the PTS. EIC exists in a dynamic monomer/dimer equilibrium that is modulated by ligand binding and is thought to regulate the overall PTS. Isolation of EIC has proven challenging, and conformational dynamics within the EIC domain during the catalytic cycle are still largely unknown. Here, we present a robust protocol for expression and purification of recombinant EIC from Escherichia coli and show that isolated EIC is capable of hydrolyzing PEP. NMR analysis and residual dipolar coupling measurements indicate that the isolated EIC domain in solution adopts a stable tertiary fold and quaternary structure that is consistent with previously reported crystallographic data. NMR relaxation dispersion measurements indicate that residues around the PEP binding site and in the β3α3 turn (residues 333-366), which is located at the dimer interface, undergo a rapid transition on the sub-millisecond time scale (with an exchange rate constant of ∼1500 s(-1)) between major open (∼97%) and minor closed (∼3%) conformations. Upon PEP binding, the β3α3 turn is effectively locked in the closed state by the formation of salt bridges between the phosphate group of PEP and the side chains of Lys(340) and Arg(358), thereby stabilizing the dimer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Dimerization
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Phosphotransferases / chemistry
  • Phosphotransferases / isolation & purification
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Phosphotransferases