Chemoreceptors are at the beginning of chemosensory signaling cascades that correspond to a major signal transduction mechanism. Chemoreceptors show a significant structural diversity of their ligand binding domains which present either a mono-modular or bi-modular arrangement. Although the majority of chemoreceptors are of unknown function, significant progress has been made in recent years in their functional annotation, which is reviewed here. In vitro ligand binding studies to recombinant ligand binding domains proved to be an efficient strategy to identify chemoreceptor functions. Obtained information is consistent with the view that a major driving force for the evolution of chemotaxis is to access carbon and nitrogen sources. The use of the newly generated information for the construction of biosensors is discussed.
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