Specificity of the CheR2 methyltransferase in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is directed by a C-terminal pentapeptide in the McpB chemoreceptor

Sci Signal. 2014 Apr 8;7(320):ra34. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2004849.


Methyltransferases of the CheR family and methylesterases of the CheB family control chemoreceptor methylation, and this dynamic posttranslational modification is necessary for proper chemotaxis of bacteria. Studies with enterobacteria that contain a single CheR or CheB show that, in addition to binding at the methylation site, some chemoreceptors bind CheR or CheB through additional high-affinity sites at distinct pentapeptide sequences in the chemoreceptors. We investigated the recognition of chemoreceptors by CheR proteins in the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. Of the four methyltransferases in PAO1, we detected an interaction only between CheR2 and the chemoreceptor methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein B (McpB), which contains the pentapeptide GWEEF at its carboxyl terminus. Furthermore, CheR2 was also the only paralog that methylated McpB in vitro, and deletion of the pentapeptide sequence abolished both the CheR2-McpB interaction and the methylation of McpB. When clustered according to protein sequence, bacterial CheR proteins form two distinct families-those that bind pentapeptide-containing chemoreceptors and those that do not. These two families are distinguished by an insertion of three amino acids in the β-subdomain of CheR. Deletion of this insertion in CheR2 prevented its interaction with and methylation of McpB. Pentapeptide-containing chemoreceptors are common to many bacteria species; thus, these short, distinct motifs may enable the specific assembly of signaling complexes that mediate different responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • INDEL Mutation
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Methyl-Accepting Chemotaxis Proteins
  • Methylation
  • Oligopeptides / genetics
  • Oligopeptides / metabolism*
  • Protein Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity / physiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Methyl-Accepting Chemotaxis Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • Protein Methyltransferases