Oligomeric states in sodium ion-dependent regulation of cyanobacterial histidine kinase-2.
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Two-component signal transduction systems (TCSs) consist of sensor histidine kinases and response regulators. TCSs mediate adaptation to environmental changes in bacteria, plants, fungi and protists. Histidine kinase 2 (Hik2) is a sensor histidine kinase found in all known cyanobacteria and as chloroplast sensor kinase in eukaryotic algae and plants. Sodium ions have been shown to inhibit the autophosphorylation activity of Hik2 with precedes phosphoryl transfer to response regulators, but the mechanism of inhibition has not been determined. We report on the mechanism of Hik2 activation and inactivation probed by chemical cross-linking and size exclusion chromatography together with direct visualisation of the kinase using negative-stain transmission electron microscopy of single particles. We show that the functional form of Hik2 is a higher-order oligomer such as a hexamer or octamer. Increased NaCl concentration converts the active hexamer into an inactive tetramer. The action of NaCl appears to be confined to the Hik2 kinase domain.