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2022 - Coexistence of Ammonium Transporter and Channel Mechanisms in Amt-Mep-Rh Twin-His Variants Impairs the Filamentation Signaling Capacity of Fungal Mep2 Transceptors

 Icon N1   SURFE2R N1 publication in mBio (2022)

Authors:
Williamson G., Brito A. S., Bizior A., Tamburrino G., Mirandela G. D., Harris T., Hoskisson P. A., Zachariae U., Marini A. M., Boeckstaens M., Javelle A.

Journal:
mBio (2022) doi:10.1128/mbio.02913-21


Abstract: 

Ammonium translocation through biological membranes, by the ubiquitous Amt-Mep-Rh family of transporters, plays a key role in all domains of life. Two highly conserved histidine residues protrude into the lumen of the pore of these transporters, forming the family’s characteristic Twin-His motif. It has been hypothesized that the motif is essential to confer the selectivity of the transport mechanism. Here, using a combination of in vitro electrophysiology on Escherichia coli AmtB, in silico molecular dynamics simulations, and in vivo yeast functional complementation assays, we demonstrate that variations in the Twin-His motif trigger a mechanistic switch between a specific transporter, depending on ammonium deprotonation, to an unspecific ion channel activity. We therefore propose that there is no selective filter that governs specificity in Amt-Mep-Rh transporters, but the inherent mechanism of translocation, dependent on the fragmentation of the substrate, ensures the high specificity of the translocation. We show that coexistence of both mechanisms in single Twin-His variants of yeast Mep2 transceptors disrupts the signaling function and so impairs fungal filamentation. These data support a signaling process driven by the transport mechanism of the fungal Mep2 transceptors.


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