The newly discovered aer locus of Escherichia coli encodes a 506- residue protein with an N terminus that resembles the NifL aerosensor and a C terminus that resembles the flagellar signaling domain of methyl-accepting chemoreceptors. Deletion mutants lacking a functional Aer protein failed to congregate around air bubbles or follow oxygen gradients in soft agar plates. Membranes with overexpressed Aer protein also contained high levels of noncovalently associated flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). We propose that Aer is a flavoprotein that mediates positive aerotactic responses in E. coli. Aer may use its FAD prosthetic group as a cellular redox sensor to monitor environmental oxygen levels.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology