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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 7;106(14):5877-82. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900896106. Epub 2009 Mar 23.

Model of mouth-to-mouth transfer of bacterial lipoproteins through inner membrane LolC, periplasmic LolA, and outer membrane LolB.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.


Outer membrane-specific lipoproteins in Escherichia coli are released from the inner membrane by an ATP-binding cassette transporter, the LolCDE complex, which causes the formation of a soluble complex with a periplasmic molecular chaperone, LolA. LolA then transports lipoproteins to the outer membrane where an outer membrane receptor, LolB, incorporates lipoproteins into the outer membrane. The molecular mechanisms underlying the Lol-dependent lipoprotein sorting have been clarified in detail. However, it remained unclear how Lol factors interact with each other to conduct very efficient lipoprotein transfer in the periplasm where ATP is not available. To address this issue, a photo-reactive phenylalanine analogue, p-benzoyl-phenylalanine, was introduced at various positions of LolA and LolB, of which the overall structures are very similar and comprise an incomplete beta-barrel with a hydrophobic cavity inside. Cells expressing LolA or LolB derivatives containing the above analogue were irradiated with UV for in vivo photo-cross-linking. These analyses revealed a hot area in the same region of LolA and LolB, through which LolA and LolB interact with each other. This area is located at the entrance of the hydrophobic cavity. Moreover, this area in LolA is involved in the interaction with a membrane subunit, LolC, whereas no cross-linking occurs between LolA and the other membrane subunit, LolE, or ATP-binding subunit LolD, despite the structural similarity between LolC and LolE. The hydrophobic cavities of LolA and LolB were both found to bind lipoproteins inside. These results indicate that the transfer of lipoproteins through Lol proteins occurs in a mouth-to-mouth manner.

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