Two Trk/Ktr/HKT-type potassium transporters, TrkG and TrkH, perform distinct functions in Escherichia coli K-12

Ellen Tanudjaja, Naomi Hoshi, Kaneyoshi Yamamoto, Kunio Ihara, Tadaomi Furuta, Masaru Tsujii, Yasuhiro Ishimaru, Nobuyuki Uozumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Escherichia coli K-12 possesses two versions of Trk/Ktr/HKT-type potassium ion (K+) transporters, TrkG and TrkH. The current paradigm is that TrkG and TrkH have largely identical characteristics, and little information is available regarding their functional differences. Here, we show using cation uptake experiments with K+ transporter knockout mutants that TrkG and TrkH have distinct ion transport activities and physiological roles. K+-transport by TrkG required Na+, whereas TrkH-mediated K+ uptake was not affected by Na+. An aspartic acid located five residues away from a critical glycine in the third pore-forming region might be involved in regulation of Na+-dependent activation of TrkG. In addition, we found that TrkG but not TrkH had Na+ uptake activity. Our analysis of K+ transport mutants revealed that TrkH supported cell growth more than TrkG; however, TrkG was able to complement loss of TrkH-mediated K+ uptake in E. coli. Furthermore, we determined that transcription of trkG in E. coli was downregulated but not completely silenced by the xenogeneic silencing factor H-NS (histone-like nucleoid structuring protein or heat-stable nucleoid-structuring protein). Taken together, the transport function of TrkG is clearly distinct from that of TrkH, and TrkG seems to have been accepted by E. coli during evolution as a K+ uptake system that coexists with TrkH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102846
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb


  • Escherichia coli
  • Trk/Ktr/HKT
  • gene transfer
  • membrane protein
  • molecular evolution
  • potassium transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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