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Microbes Infect. 2000 Jul;2(9):1061-72.

Secretion of virulence determinants by the general secretory pathway in gram-negative pathogens: an evolving story.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Secretion of proteins by the general secretory pathway (GSP) is a two-step process requiring the Sec translocase in the inner membrane and a separate substrate-specific secretion apparatus for translocation across the outer membrane. Gram-negative bacteria with pathogenic potential use the GSP to deliver virulence factors into the extracellular environment for interaction with the host. Well-studied examples of virulence determinants using the GSP for secretion include extracellular toxins, pili, curli, autotransporters, and crystaline S-layers. This article reviews our current understanding of the GSP and discusses examples of terminal branches of the GSP which are utilized by factors implicated in bacterial virulence.

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