National Center for
2QOM: The Crystal Structure of the E.coli Espp Autotransporter Beta-domain
Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. (2007) 14 p.1214-1220
Autotransporters are virulence factors produced by Gram-negative bacteria. They consist of two domains, an N-terminal 'passenger' domain and a C-terminal beta-domain. beta-domains form beta-barrel structures in the outer membrane while passenger domains are translocated into the extracellular space. In some autotransporters, the two domains are separated by proteolytic cleavage. Using X-ray crystallography, we solved the 2.7-A structure of the post-cleavage state of the beta-domain of EspP, an autotransporter produced by Escherichia coli strain O157:H7. The structure consists of a 12-stranded beta-barrel with the passenger domain-beta-domain cleavage junction located inside the barrel pore, approximately midway between the extracellular and periplasmic surfaces of the outer membrane. The structure reveals an unprecedented intra-barrel cleavage mechanism and suggests that two conformational changes occur in the beta-domain after cleavage, one conferring increased stability on the beta-domain and another restricting access to the barrel pore.