For free-living organisms, the ability to sense and respond to the outside environment is crucial for survival. Eukaryotes, such as animals and plants, often have highly complex network systems in place to monitor their surroundings and respond effectively, but bacteria have developed a remarkably simple system. It’s called the ‘Two Component System’ because it literally relies on just two components; a sensor and a responder. The sensor picks up the signal, communicates this to the responder, which then causes the effect.
The picture above shows this process happening. The ‘communication’ of the message from the sensor to the responder, as shown by the coloured arrows, is carried out by transferring phosphate molecules. The signal interacting with the sensor causes the sensor to autophosphorylate (phosphorylate itself) and then pass the phosphate molecule onto the responder to trigger the response. The letters “H” and “D” are the actual amino-acids being phosphorylated; Histadine and Aspartate.