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Journal of Bacteriology


Many bacteria contain large cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) signaling networks made of diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) and phosphodiesterases that can direct cellular activities sensitive to c-di-GMP levels. While DGCs synthesize c-di-GMP, many DGCs also contain an autoinhibitory site (I-site) that binds c-di-GMP to halt excess production of this small molecule, thus controlling the amount of c-di-GMP available to bind to target proteins in the cell. Many DGCs studied to date have also been found to signal for a specific c-di-GMP-related process, and although recent studies have suggested that physical interaction between DGCs and target proteins may provide this signaling fidelity, the importance of the I-site has not yet been incorporated into this model. Our results from Pseudomonas fluorescens indicate that mutation of residues at the I-site of a DGC disrupts the interaction with its target receptor. By creating various substitutions to a DGC's I-site, we show that signaling between a DGC (GcbC) and its target protein (LapD) is a combined function of the I-site-dependent protein-protein interaction and the level of c-di-GMP production. The dual role of the I-site in modulating DGC activity as well as participating in protein-protein interactions suggests caution in interpreting the function of the I-site as only a means to negatively regulate a cyclase. These results implicate the I-site as an important positive and negative regulatory element of DGCs that may contribute to signaling specificity.