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J Bacteriol. 2000 Sep;182(17):4811-21.

Competition between the Yops of Yersinia enterocolitica for delivery into eukaryotic cells: role of the SycE chaperone binding domain of YopE.

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  • 1Microbial Pathogenesis Unit, de Duve Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, and Faculté de Médecine, Université Catholique de Louvain, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


A type III secretion-translocation system allows Yersinia adhering at the surface of animal cells to deliver a cocktail of effector Yops (YopH, -O, -P, -E, -M, and -T) into the cytosol of these cells. Residues or codons 1 to 77 contain all the information required for the complete delivery of YopE into the target cell (release from the bacterium and translocation across the eukaryotic cell membrane). Residues or codons 1 to 15 are sufficient for release from the wild-type bacterium under Ca(2+)-chelating conditions but not for delivery into target cells. Residues 15 to 50 comprise the binding domain for SycE, a chaperone specific for YopE that is necessary for release and translocation of full-length YopE. To understand the role of this chaperone, we studied the delivery of YopE-Cya reporter proteins and YopE deletants by polymutant Yersinia devoid of most of the Yop effectors (delta HOPEM and delta THE strains). We first tested YopE-Cya hybrid proteins and YopE proteins deleted of the SycE-binding site. In contrast to wild-type strains, these mutants delivered YopE(15)-Cya as efficiently as YopE(130)-Cya. They were also able to deliver YopE(delta 17-77). SycE was dispensable for these deliveries. These results show that residues or codons 1 to 15 are sufficient for delivery into eukaryotic cells and that there is no specific translocation signal in Yops. However, the fact that the SycE-binding site and SycE were necessary for delivery of YopE by wild-type Yersinia suggests that they could introduce hierarchy among the effectors to be delivered. We then tested a YopE-Cya hybrid and YopE proteins deleted of amino acids 2 to 15 but containing the SycE-binding domain. These constructs were neither released in vitro upon Ca(2+) chelation nor delivered into cells by wild-type or polymutant bacteria, casting doubts on the hypothesis that SycE could be a secretion pilot. Finally, it appeared that residues 50 to 77 are inhibitory to YopE release and that binding of SycE overcomes this inhibitory effect. Removal of this domain allowed in vitro release and delivery in cells in the absence as well as in the presence of SycE.

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