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Two-component regulatory systems are commonly used by bacteria to coordinate intracellular responses with environmental cues. These systems are composed of functional protein pairs consisting of a sensor histidine kinase and cognate response regulator. In contrast to the well-studied Caulobacter crescentus system, which carries dozens of these pairs, the streamlined bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis encodes only two pairs: CckA/CtrA and PleC/PleD. Here, we used bioinformatic tools to compare characterized two-component system relays from C. crescentus, the related Anaplasmataceae species Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Ehrlichia chaffeensis, and 12 sequenced Wolbachia strains. We found the core protein pairs and a subset of interacting partners to be highly conserved within Wolbachia and these other Anaplasmataceae. Genes involved in two-component signaling were positioned differently within the various Wolbachia genomes, whereas the local context of each gene was conserved. Unlike Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, Wolbachia two-component genes were more consistently found clustered with metabolic genes. The domain architecture and key functional residues standard for two-component system proteins were well-conserved in Wolbachia, although residues that specify cognate pairing diverged substantially from other Anaplasmataceae. These findings indicate that Wolbachia two-component signaling pairs share considerable functional overlap with other alpha-proteobacterial systems, whereas their divergence suggests the potential for regulatory differences and cross-talk.
Christensen, Steen and Serbus, Laura Renee, "Comparative Analysis of Wolbachia Genomes Reveals Streamlining and Divergence of Minimalist Two-Component Systems" (2015). Department of Biological Sciences. Paper 70.