Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Infect Immun. 2004 Jun;72(6):3609-21.

The serine protease motif of EspC from enteropathogenic Escherichia coli produces epithelial damage by a mechanism different from that of Pet toxin from enteroaggregative E. coli.

Author information

  • 1Department of Cell Biology, CINVESTAV-IPN, 07000 México, DF, Mexico.


EspC (Escherichia coli secreted protein C) of enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) shows the three classical domains of the autotransporter proteins and has a conserved serine protease motif belonging to the SPATE (serine protease autotransporters of Enterobacteriaceae) subfamily. EspC and its homolog Pet in enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) bear the same sequence within the serine protease motif, and both proteins produce enterotoxic effects, suggesting that like Pet, EspC could be internalized to reach and cleave the calmodulin-binding domain of fodrin, causing actin cytoskeleton disruption. Even though both proteins cause cytoskeleton damage by virtue of their serine protease motifs, the following evidence supports the hypothesis that the mechanisms are different. (i) To obtain similar cytotoxic and cytoskeletal effects, a threefold-higher EspC concentration and a twofold-higher exposure time are needed. (ii) EspC internalization into epithelial cells takes more time (6 h) than Pet internalization (30 min), and the distributions of the two proteins inside the cells are also different. (iii) Both proteins have affinity for fodrin and cleave it, but the cleavage sites are different; EspC produces two cleavages, while Pet produces just one. (iv) EspC does not cause fodrin redistribution within epithelial cells. (v) An EspC serine protease motif mutant, but not a Pet serine protease mutant, competes with EspC by blocking cytoskeletal damage. All these data suggest that the protein conformational structure is very important for the activity of the catalytic site, influencing its interaction with the target protein and its internalization. The differences between these proteins may explain the reduced ability of EspC to cause cytopathic effects. However, these differences may confer a specialized role on EspC in the pathogenesis of EPEC, which is different from that of Pet in EAEC pathogenesis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk