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Science 317 (5841): 1090-1093

Copyright © 2007 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Blue-Light-Activated Histidine Kinases: Two-Component Sensors in Bacteria

Trevor E. Swartz,1* Tong-Seung Tseng,2 Marcus A. Frederickson,1 Gastón Paris,3 Diego J. Comerci,6 Gireesh Rajashekara,4,7 Jung-Gun Kim,5 Mary Beth Mudgett,5 Gary A. Splitter,4 Rodolfo A. Ugalde,6 Fernando A. Goldbaum,3 Winslow R. Briggs,2 Roberto A. Bogomolni1{dagger}

Abstract: Histidine kinases, used for environmental sensing by bacterial two-component systems, are involved in regulation of bacterial gene expression, chemotaxis, phototaxis, and virulence. Flavin-containing domains function as light-sensory modules in plant and algal phototropins and in fungal blue-light receptors. We have discovered that the prokaryotes Brucella melitensis, Brucella abortus, Erythrobacter litoralis, and Pseudomonas syringae contain light-activated histidine kinases that bind a flavin chromophore and undergo photochemistry indicative of cysteinyl-flavin adduct formation. Infection of macrophages by B. abortus was stimulated by light in the wild type but was limited in photochemically inactive and null mutants, indicating that the flavin-containing histidine kinase functions as a photoreceptor regulating B. abortus virulence.

1 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
2 Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, CA, USA.
3 Fundación Instituto Leloir, Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas Buenos Aires–Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (IIBBA-CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
4 Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
5 Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.
6 Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, CONICET, San Martín, Argentina.
7 Food Animal Health Research Program–Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (FAHRP-OARDC), Ohio State University, Wooster, OH, USA.

* Present address: Early Stage Pharmaceutical Development, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, CA, USA.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: bogo{at}

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