Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
TlpC is encoded in the second chemotaxis operon of Rhodobacter sphaeroides. This protein shows some homology to membrane-spanning chemoreceptors of many bacterial species but, unlike these, is essential for R. sphaeroides chemotaxis to all compounds tested. Genomic replacement of tlpC with a C-terminal gfp fusion demonstrated that TlpC localized to a discrete cluster within the cytoplasm. Immunogold electron microscopy also showed that TlpC localized to a cytoplasmic electron-dense region. Correct TlpC–GFP localization depended on the downstream signalling proteins, CheW3, CheW4 and CheA2, and was tightly linked to cell division. Newly divided cells contained a single cluster but, as the cell cycle progressed, a second cluster appeared close to the initial cluster. As elongation continued, these clusters moved apart so that, on septation, each daughter cell contained a single TlpC cluster. The data presented suggest that TlpC is either a cytoplasmic chemoreceptor responding to or integrating global signals of metabolic state or a novel and essential component of the chemotaxis signalling pathway. These data also suggest that clustering is essential for signalling and that a mechanism may exist for targeting and localizing proteins within the bacterial cytoplasm.
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