The KupA and KupB Proteins of Lactococcus lactis IL1403 Are Novel c-di-AMP Receptor Proteins Responsible for Potassium Uptake

J Bacteriol. 2019 Apr 24;201(10):e00028-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.00028-19. Print 2019 May 15.


Cyclic di-AMP (c-di-AMP) is a second messenger involved in diverse metabolic processes, including osmolyte uptake, cell wall homeostasis, and antibiotic and heat resistance. In Lactococcus lactis, a lactic acid bacterium which is used in the dairy industry and as a cell factory in biotechnological processes, the only reported interaction partners of c-di-AMP are the pyruvate carboxylase and BusR, the transcription regulator of the busAB operon for glycine betaine uptake. However, recent studies uncovered a major role of c-di-AMP in the control of potassium homeostasis, and potassium is the signal that triggers c-di-AMP synthesis. In this study, we have identified KupA and KupB, which belong to the Kup/HAK/KT family, as novel c-di-AMP binding proteins. Both proteins are high-affinity potassium transporters, and their transport activities are inhibited by binding of c-di-AMP. Thus, in addition to the well-studied Ktr/Trk potassium channels, KupA and KupB represent a second class of potassium transporters that are subject to inhibition by c-di-AMP.IMPORTANCE Potassium is an essential ion in every living cell. Even though potassium is the most abundant cation in cells, its accumulation can be toxic. Therefore, the level of potassium has to be tightly controlled. In many Gram-positive bacteria, the second messenger cyclic di-AMP plays a key role in the control of potassium homeostasis by binding to potassium transporters and regulatory proteins and RNA molecules. In the lactic acid bacterium Lactococcus lactis, none of these conserved c-di-AMP-responsive molecules are present. In this study, we demonstrate that the KupA and KupB proteins of L. lactis IL1403 are high-affinity potassium transporters and that their transport activity is inhibited by the second messenger c-di-AMP.

Keywords: Lactococcus; c-di-AMP; potassium transport; second messenger.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Dinucleoside Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Lactococcus lactis / enzymology*
  • Lactococcus lactis / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Dinucleoside Phosphates
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • cyclic diadenosine phosphate
  • Potassium