Evolution of Two-Component Signal Transduction
Molecular biology and evolution
Two-component signal transduction (TCST) systems are the principal means for coordinating responses to environmental changes in bacteria as well as some plants, fungi, protozoa, and archaea. These systems typically consist of a receptor histidine kinase, which reacts to an extracellular signal by phosphorylating a cytoplasmic response regulator, causing a change in cellular behavior. Although several model systems, including sporulation and chemotaxis, have been extensively studied, the
... nary relationships between specific TCST systems are not well understood, and the ancestry of the signal transduction components is unclear. Phylogenetic trees of TCST components from 14 complete and 6 partial genomes, containing 183 histidine kinases and 220 response regulators, were constructed using distance methods. The trees showed extensive congruence in the positions of 11 recognizable phylogenetic clusters. Eukaryotic sequences were found almost exclusively in one cluster, which also showed the greatest extent of domain variability in its component proteins, and archaeal sequences mainly formed speciesspecific clusters. Three clusters in different parts of the kinase tree contained proteins with serine-phosphorylating activity. All kinases were found to be monophyletic with respect to other members of their superfamily, such as type II topoisomerases and Hsp90. Structural analysis further revealed significant similarity to the ATP-binding domain of eukaryotic protein kinases. TCST systems are of bacterial origin and radiated into archaea and eukaryotes by lateral gene transfer. Their components show extensive coevolution, suggesting that recombination has not been a major factor in their differentiation. Although histidine kinase activity is prevalent, serine kinases have evolved multiple times independently within this family, accompanied by a loss of the cognate response regulator(s). The structural and functional similarity between TCST kinases and eukaryotic protein kinases raises the possibility of a distant evolutionary relationship.