Protein synthesis controls phosphate homeostasis

Mauricio H. Pontes, Eduardo A. Groisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Phosphorus is an essential element assimilated largely as orthophosphate (Pi). Cells respond to Pi starvation by importing Pi from their surroundings. We now report that impaired protein synthesis alone triggers a Pi starvation response even when Pi is plentiful in the extracellular milieu. In the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, this response entails phosphorylation of the regulatory protein PhoB and transcription of PhoB-de-pendent Pi transporter genes and is eliminated upon stimulation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis. When protein synthesis is impaired due to low cytoplasmic magnesium (Mg2+), Salmonella triggers the Pi starvation response because ribosomes are destabilized, which reduces ATP consumption and thus free cytoplasmic Pi. This response is transient because low cytoplasmic Mg2+ promotes an uptake in Mg2+ and a decrease in ATP levels, which stabilizes ribosomes, resulting in ATP consumption and Pi increase, thus ending the response. Notably, pharmacological inhibition of protein synthesis also elicited a Pi starvation response in the bacterium Escherichia coli and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our findings identify a regulatory connection between protein synthesis and Pi homeostasis that is widespread in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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