BtsT, a Novel and Specific Pyruvate/H+ Symporter in Escherichia coli

J. Bacteriol., vol. 200, no. 2 e00599-17, doi: 10.1128/JB.00599-17
J. Bacteriol., online article

The peptide transporter carbon starvation (CstA) family (transporter classification [TC] 2.A.114) belongs to the second largest superfamily of secondary transporters, the amino acid/polyamine/organocation (APC) superfamily. No representative of the CstA family has previously been characterized either biochemically or structurally, but we have now identified the function of one of its members, the transport protein YjiY of Escherichia coli. Expression of the yjiY gene is regulated by the LytS-like histidine kinase BtsS, a sensor of extracellular pyruvate, together with the LytTR-like response regulator BtsR. YjiY consists of 716 amino acids, which form 18 putative transmembrane helices. Transport studies with intact cells provided evidence that YjiY is a specific and high-affinity transporter for pyruvate (Km, 16 μM). Furthermore, reconstitution of the purified YjiY into proteoliposomes revealed that YjiY is a pyruvate/H+ symporter. It has long been assumed that E. coli possesses a transporter(s) for pyruvate, but the present study is the first to definitively identify such a protein. Based on its function, we propose to change the name of the uncharacterized gene yjiY to btsT for Brenztraubensäure (the German word for pyruvate) transporter.

IMPORTANCE BtsT (formerly known as YjiY) is found in many commensal and pathogenic representatives of the Enterobacteriaceae. This study for the first time characterizes a pyruvate transporter in E. coli, BtsT, as a specific pyruvate/H+ symporter. When nutrients are limiting, BtsT takes up pyruvate from the medium, thus enabling it to be used as a carbon source for the growth and survival of E. coli.

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