High pressure inhibits signaling protein binding to the flagellar motor and bacterial chemotaxis through enhanced hydration.

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High pressure below 100 MPa interferes inter-molecular interactions without causing pressure denaturation of proteins. In Escherichia coli, the binding of the chemotaxis signaling protein CheY to the flagellar motor protein FliM induces reversal of the motor rotation. Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and parallel cascade selection MD (PaCS-MD), we show that high pressure increases the water density in the first hydration shell of CheY and considerably induces water penetration into the CheY-FliM interface. PaCS-MD enabled us to observe pressure-induced dissociation of the CheY-FliM complex at atomic resolution. Pressure dependence of binding free energy indicates that the increase of pressure from 0.1 to 100 MPa significantly weakens the binding. Using high-pressure microscopy, we observed that high hydrostatic pressure fixes the motor rotation to the counter-clockwise direction. In conclusion, the application of pressure enhances hydration of the proteins and weakens the binding of CheY to FliM, preventing reversal of the flagellar motor.This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • Scientific Reports

    Scientific Reports (10), 1-13, 2020-02-11

    Springer Nature


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