Phenotypic Heterogeneity Generated by Histidine Kinase-Based Signaling Networks
A complex relationship exists between environmental factors, signaling networks and phenotypic individuality in bacteria. In this review, we will focus on the organization, function and control points of multiple-input histidine kinase-based signaling cascades as a source of phenotypic heterogeneity. In particular, we will examine the quorum sensing cascade in Vibrio harveyi and the pyruvate sensor network in Escherichia coli. We will describe and compare these histidine kinase-based signaling networks in terms of robustness, the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and the role of RNA switches. Finally, we will discuss the biological significance of phenotypic heterogeneity for the respective bacteria in relation to environmental factors.