Microorganisms use transmembrane sensory receptors to perceive a wide range of environmental factors. It is unclear how rapidly the sensory properties of these receptors can be modified when microorganisms adapt to novel environments. Here, we demonstrate experimentally that the response of an Escherichia coli chemotaxis receptor to its chemical ligands can be easily inverted by mutations at several sites along receptor sequence. We also perform molecular dynamics simulations to shed light on the mechanism of the transmembrane signaling by E. coli chemoreceptors. Finally, we use receptors with inverted signaling to map determinants that enable the same receptor to sense multiple environmental factors, including metal ions, aromatic compounds, osmotic pressure, and salt ions. Our findings demonstrate high plasticity of signaling and provide further insights into the mechanisms of stimulus sensing and processing by bacterial chemoreceptors.