Structure, dynamics and biophysics of the cytoplasmic protein-protein complexes of the bacterial phosphoenolpyruvate: sugar phosphotransferase system

Trends Biochem Sci. 2013 Oct;38(10):515-30. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2013.08.003. Epub 2013 Sep 19.


The bacterial phosphotransferase system (PTS) couples phosphoryl transfer, via a series of bimolecular protein-protein interactions, to sugar transport across the membrane. The multitude of complexes in the PTS provides a paradigm for studying protein interactions, and for understanding how the same binding surface can specifically recognize a diverse array of targets. Fifteen years of work aimed at solving the solution structures of all soluble protein-protein complexes of the PTS has served as a test bed for developing NMR and integrated hybrid approaches to study larger complexes in solution and to probe transient, spectroscopically invisible states, including encounter complexes. We review these approaches, highlighting the problems that can be tackled with these methods, and summarize the current findings on protein interactions.

Keywords: NMR spectroscopy; bacterial phosphotransferase system; encounter complexes; hybrid methods in structure determination; protein–protein recognition; residual dipolar couplings; signal transduction; solution X-ray scattering; sparsely populated states.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / chemistry
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation


  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System