Phosphorelays are signal transduction circuits that sense environmental changes and adjust cellular metabolism. Five different circuit architectures account for 99% of all phosphorelay operons annotated in over 9,000 fully sequenced genomes. Here we asked what biological design principles, if any, could explain selection among those architectures in nature. We began by studying kinetically well characterized phosphorelays (Spo0 of Bacillus subtilis and Sln1 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae). We find that natural circuit architecture maximizes information transmission in both cases. We use mathematical models to compare information transmission among the architectures for a realistic range of concentration and parameter values. Mapping experimentally determined phosphorelay protein concentrations onto that range reveals that the native architecture maximizes information transmission in sixteen out of seventeen analyzed phosphorelays. These results suggest that maximization of information transmission is important in the selection of native phosphorelay architectures, parameter values and protein concentrations.
- Bacterial signal transduction
- Biological design principles
- Biological information transmission
- Mathematical modelling