Coupling Physiology and Gene Regulation in Bacteria: The Phosphotransferase Sugar Uptake System Delivers the Signals

Naturwissenschaften. 1998 Dec;85(12):583-92. doi: 10.1007/s001140050555.


In many bacteria a crucial link between metabolism and regulation of catabolic genes is based on the phosphotransferase sugar uptake system (PTS). We summarize the mechanisms of the signaling pathways originating from PTS and leading to regulation of transcription. A protein domain, called PTS regulation domain (PRD), is linked to many antiterminators and transcriptional activators and regulates their activity depending on its state of phosphorylation. Two sites can be phosphorylated in most PRDs: HPr-dependent modification at one site leads to activation while enzyme II dependent phosphorylation of the other site renders it inactive. In addition, PTS components are used to generate cofactors for regulators of transcription. The paradigm is the enzyme II dependent activity of adenylate cyclase determining the cyclic AMP level in Escherichia coli and thereby the activity of the catabolite activator protein. In many gram-positive bacteria catabolite repression is mediated by the catabolite control protein CcpA, which requires HPr Ser-46 phosphate as a cofactor to regulate transcription of catabolic genes. HPr Ser-46 phosphate is produced by HPr kinase, the activity of which is under metabolic control via the concentrations of glycolytic intermediates. These recent results establish a multifaceted regulatory role for PTS in addition to its well-established function in active sugar uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / enzymology
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology*
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / genetics*
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System