Photoautotrophic bacteria have developed mechanisms to maintain K+ homeostasis under conditions of changing ionic concentrations in the environment. Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 contains genes encoding a well-characterized Ktr-type K+ uptake transporter (Ktr) and a putative ATP-dependent transporter specific for K+ (Kdp). The contributions of each of these K+ transport systems to cellular K+ homeostasis have not yet been defined conclusively. To verify the functionality of Kdp, kdp genes were expressed in Escherichia coli, where Kdp conferred K+ uptake, albeit with lower rates than were conferred by Ktr. An onchip microfluidic device enabled monitoring of the biphasic initial volume recovery of single Synechocystis cells after hyperosmotic shock. Here, Ktr functioned as the primary K+ uptake system during the first recovery phase, whereas Kdp did not contribute significantly. The expression of the kdp operon in Synechocystis was induced by extracellular K+ depletion. Correspondingly, Kdp-mediated K+ uptake supported Synechocystis cell growth with trace amounts of external potassium. This induction of kdp expression depended on two adjacent genes, hik20 and rre19, encoding a putative two-component system. The circadian expression of kdp and ktr peaked at subjective dawn, which may support the acquisition of K+ required for the regular diurnal photosynthetic metabolism. These results indicate that Kdp contributes to the maintenance of a basal intracellular K+ concentration under conditions of limited K+ in natural environments, whereas Ktr mediates fast potassium movements in the presence of greater K+ availability. Through their distinct activities, both Ktr and Kdp coordinate the responses of Synechocystis to changes in K+ levels under fluctuating environmental conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology