Regulation of potassium homeostasis in Caulobacter crescentus: Potassium homeostasis in C. crescentus

Alex Armando Quintero Yanes, Loic Leger, Madeline Collignon, Julien Mignon, Aurelie Mayard, Catherine Michaux, Regis Hallez

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Potassium (K+) is an essential physiological element determining membrane potential, intracellular pH, osmotic/turgor pressure, and protein synthesis in cells. Nevertheless, K+ homeostasis remains poorly studied in bacteria. Here we describe the regulation of potassium uptake systems in the oligotrophic α-proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus known as a model for asymmetric cell division. We show that C. crescentus can grow in concentrations from the micromolar to the millimolar range by essentially using two K+ transporters to maintain potassium homeostasis, the low affinity Kup and the high affinity Kdp uptake systems. When K+ is not limiting, we found that the kup gene is essential while kdp inactivation does not impact the growth. In contrast, kdp becomes critical but not essential and kup dispensable for growth in K+-limited environments. However, in the absence of kdp, mutations in kup were selected to improve growth in K+-depleted conditions, likely by improving the affinity of Kup for K+. In addition, mutations in the KdpDE two-component system, which regulates kdpABC expression, suggest that the inner membrane sensor regulatory component KdpD works as a kinase in early stages of growth and as a phosphatase to regulate transition into stationary phase. Our data also show that KdpE is not only phosphorylated by KdpD but also by another non-cognate histidine kinase. On top of this, we determined the KdpE-dependent and independent K+ transcriptome as well as the direct targets of KdpE. Together, our work illustrates how an oligotrophic bacterium responds to fluctuation in K+ availability.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 5 Jul 2023


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