Histidine kinases and the missing phosphoproteome from prokaryotes to eukaryotes

Lab Invest. 2018 Feb;98(2):233-247. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2017.118. Epub 2017 Oct 23.


Protein phosphorylation is the most common type of post-translational modification in eukaryotes. The phosphoproteome is defined as the complete set of experimentally detectable phosphorylation sites present in a cell's proteome under various conditions. However, we are still far from identifying all the phosphorylation sites in a cell mainly due to the lack of information about phosphorylation events involving residues other than Ser, Thr and Tyr. Four types of phosphate-protein linkage exist and these generate nine different phosphoresidues-pSer, pThr, pTyr, pHis, pLys, pArg, pAsp, pGlu and pCys. Most of the effort in studying protein phosphorylation has been focused on Ser, Thr and Tyr phosphorylation. The recent development of 1- and 3-pHis monoclonal antibodies promises to increase our understanding of His phosphorylation and the kinases and phosphatases involved. Several His kinases are well defined in prokaryotes, especially those involved in two-component system (TCS) signaling. However, in higher eukaryotes, NM23, a protein originally characterized as a nucleoside diphosphate kinase, is the only characterized protein-histidine kinase. This ubiquitous and conserved His kinase autophosphorylates its active site His, and transfers this phosphate either onto a nucleoside diphosphate or onto a protein His residue. Studies of NM23 protein targets using newly developed anti-pHis antibodies will surely help illuminate the elusive His phosphorylation-based signaling pathways. This review discusses the role that the NM23/NME/NDPK phosphotransferase has, how the addition of the pHis phosphoproteome will expand the phosphoproteome and make His phosphorylation part of the global phosphorylation world. It also summarizes why our understanding of phosphorylation is still largely restricted to the acid stable phosphoproteome, and highlights the study of NM23 histidine kinase as an entrée into the world of histidine phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Histidine Kinase / classification
  • Histidine Kinase / genetics
  • Histidine Kinase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • NM23 Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinases / classification
  • NM23 Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinases / genetics
  • NM23 Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phylogeny
  • Prokaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Proteome / metabolism*


  • NM23 Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinases
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteome
  • Histidine Kinase