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Key residues in Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein kinase G play a role in regulating kinase activity and survival in the host.

Tiwari D., Singh R.K., Goswami K., Verma S.K., Prakash B., Nandicoori V.K.

Protein kinase G (PknG) in Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been shown to modulate phagosome-lysosome fusion. The protein has three distinct domains, an N-terminal Trx domain, a kinase domain, and a C-terminal TPR domain. The present study extensively analyzes the roles of these domains in regulating PknG kinase activity and function. We find that the kinase domain of PknG by itself is inactive, signifying the importance of the flanking domains. Although the deletion of the Trx domain severely impacts the activity of the protein, the C-terminal region also contributes significantly in regulating the activity of the kinase. Apart from this, PknG kinase activity is dependent on the presence of threonine 309 in the p + 1 loop of the activation segment. Mutating the conserved cysteine residues in the Trx motifs makes PknG refractory to changes in the redox environment. In vitro experiments identify threonine 63 as the major phosphorylation site of the protein. Importantly, we find that this is the only site in the protein that is phosphorylated in vivo. Macrophage infection studies reveal that the first 73 residues, the Trx motifs, and the threonine 63 residue are independently essential for modulating PknG-mediated survival of mycobacteria in its host. We have extended these studies to investigate the role of PknG and PknG mutants in the pathogenesis of mycobacteria in mice. Our results reinforce the findings from the macrophage infection experiments, and for the first time demonstrate that the expression of PknG in non-pathogenic mycobacteria allows the continued existence of these bacteria in host tissues.

J. Biol. Chem. 284:27467-27479(2009) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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