The silent information regulator (Sir2) family proteins are NAD+-dependent deacetylases. Although a few substrates have been identified, functions of the bacteria Sir2-like protein (CobB) still remain unclear. Here the role of CobB on Escherichia coli chemotaxis was investigated. We used Western blotting and mass spectrometry to show that the response regulator CheY is a substrate of CobB. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) indicated that acetylation affects the interaction between CheY and the flagellar switch protein FliM. The presence of intact flagella in knockout strains ΔcobB, Δacs, Δ(cobB) Δ(acs), Δ(cheA) Δ(cheZ), Δ(cheA) Δ(cheZ) Δ(cobB) and Δ(cheA) Δ(cheZ) Δ(acs) was confirmed by electron microscopy. Genetic analysis of these knockout strains showed that: (i) the ΔcobB mutant exhibited reduced responses to chemotactic stimuli in chemotactic assays, whereas the Δacs mutant was indistinguishable from the parental strain, (ii) CheY from the ΔcobB mutant showed a higher level of acetylation, indicating that CobB can mediate the deacetylation of CheY in vivo, and (iii) deletion of cobB reversed the phenotype of Δ(cheA) Δ(cheZ). Our findings suggest that CobB regulates E. coli chemotaxis by deacetylating CheY. Thus a new function of bacterial cobB was identified and also new insights of regulation of bacterial chemotaxis were provided
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