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Curr Opin Microbiol. 1998 Feb;1(1):27-35.

Secretion of proteins and assembly of bacterial surface organelles: shared pathways of extracellular protein targeting.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Extracellular or surface localization of virulence determinants is an important attribute of pathogenic microorganisms. The past decade has seen significant research advances in defining the steps and identifying the necessary machinery for protein secretion from bacterial cells. In Gram-negative pathogens, four distinct classes of secretion pathways have been identified that deliver virulence factors to their sites of action. These pathways are responsible for the delivery of soluble extracellular enzymes into the surrounding medium, or for specifically targeting proteins to the host cell. In several instances protein secretion pathways are similar to those involved in assembly of bacterial appendages. Combination of biochemical and genetic analyses has recently revealed that the pathways of protein secretion and surface localization of various organelles are mechanistically similar which was not apparent simply by comparing amino acid sequences of related proteins. The choice of the pathway that a protein will utilize may not be dictated only by the specific requirement of the secreted protein to traverse the cell envelope in the functional form, but also by the need to assure its delivery to the correct site of action outside the bacterial cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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