Structural and functional insights into the periplasmic detector domain of the GacS histidine kinase controlling biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 12;7(1):11262. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11361-3.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogenic bacterium responsible for both acute and chronic infections and has developed resistance mechanisms due to its ability to promote biofilm formation and evade host adaptive immune responses. Here, we investigate the functional role of the periplasmic detector domain (GacSPD) from the membrane-bound GacS histidine kinase, which is one of the key players for biofilm formation and coordination of bacterial lifestyles. A gacS mutant devoid of the periplasmic detector domain is severely defective in biofilm formation. Functional assays indicate that this effect is accompanied by concomitant changes in the expression of the two RsmY/Z small RNAs that control activation of GacA-regulated genes. The solution NMR structure of GacSPD reveals a distinct PDC/PAS α/β fold characterized by a three-stranded β-sheet flanked by α-helices and an atypical major loop. Point mutations in a putative ligand binding pocket lined by positively-charged residues originating primarily from the major loop impaired biofilm formation. These results demonstrate the functional role of GacSPD, evidence critical residues involved in GacS/GacA signal transduction system that regulates biofilm formation, and document the evolutionary diversity of the PDC/PAS domain fold in bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Histidine Kinase / chemistry*
  • Histidine Kinase / genetics
  • Histidine Kinase / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mutant Proteins / chemistry
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism
  • Periplasmic Proteins / chemistry*
  • Periplasmic Proteins / genetics
  • Periplasmic Proteins / metabolism*
  • Point Mutation
  • Protein Conformation
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / enzymology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development


  • Mutant Proteins
  • Periplasmic Proteins
  • Histidine Kinase