Cross Talk among Transporters of the Phosphoenolpyruvate-Dependent Phosphotransferase System in Bacillus subtilis

J Bacteriol. 2018 Sep 10;200(19):e00213-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00213-18. Print 2018 Oct 1.


The phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS) is the main carbohydrate uptake system in Bacillus subtilis A typical PTS consists of two general proteins, enzyme I (EI) and a histidine-containing protein (HPr), as well as a specific carbohydrate transporter (or enzyme II [EII]), all of which transfer the phosphoryl group from phosphoenolpyruvate to the transported carbohydrate. The specific PTS transporters are formed by multidomain proteins or single-domain subunits. These domains are domain C (EIIC), the transmembrane channel for the carbohydrate transport; domain B (EIIB), the membrane-bound domain responsible for phosphorylation of the carbohydrate; and domain A (EIIA), the mediator between HPr(H15∼P) and EIIB. There are 16 PTS transporters in B. subtilis, 6 of which, i.e., NagP, MalP, MurP, TreP, SacP, and SacX, contain no EIIA domain. Deletion of the single-EIIA-containing transporters showed that there is cross talk between the noncognate EIIA and EIIB domains in PTS. By deletion of all EIIA-containing proteins, strain KM455 (ΔEIIA) was constructed, and the EIIA-containing proteins were individually introduced into the strain. In this way, the PTS transporters of the glucose family, namely, PtsG, GamP, and PtsA (also known as YpqE), enabled growth with maltose, N-acetylglucosamine, sucrose, or trehalose as the sole carbon source. Construction of TkmA-EIIA fusion proteins confirmed the probable interaction between the EIIAs of the glucose family of PTS transporters and the EIIA-deficient PTS transporters. Likewise, we have shown that SacX is mainly phosphorylated by PtsA and GamP. PtsG and GmuA were also able to phosphorylate SacX, albeit less well than GamP and PtsA.IMPORTANCE The phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS) not only is a carbohydrate uptake system in B. subtilis but also plays an important role in sensing the nutrient fluctuation in the medium. This sensing system enables the cells to respond to these fluctuations properly. The PTS transporters have a pivotal role in this sensing system since they are carbohydrate specific. In this study, we tried to understand the interactions among these transporters which revealed the cross talk among PTSs. Three PTS proteins, namely, PtsG (the specific transporter of glucose), GamP (the specific transporter of glucosamine), and PtsA (a cytoplasmic single-domain EIIA protein) were shown to play the major role in the interaction among the PTSs.

Keywords: PTS; carbohydrate uptake; enzyme II; permease; phosphotransfer.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate / metabolism*
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / genetics
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System
  • phosphoenolpyruvate-glucose phosphotransferase