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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Feb;39(3):792-800.

Secretion of predicted Inc proteins of Chlamydia pneumoniae by a heterologous type III machinery.

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Unité de Biologie des Interactions Cellulaires, URA CNRS 1960, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Chlamydia spp. are strictly intracellular pathogens that grow inside a vacuole, called an inclusion. They possess genes encoding proteins homologous to components of type III secretion machineries, which, in other bacterial pathogens, are involved in delivery of bacterial proteins within or through the membrane of eukaryotic host cells. Inc proteins are chlamydial proteins that are associated with the inclusion membrane and are characterized by the presence of a large hydrophobic domain in their amino acid sequence. To investigate whether Inc proteins and other proteins exhibiting a similar hydropathic profile might be secreted by a type III system, we used a heterologous secretion system. Chimeras were constructed by fusing the N-terminal part of these proteins with a reporter, the Cya protein of Bordetella pertussis, and these were expressed in various strains of Shigella flexneri. We demonstrate that these hybrid proteins are secreted by the type III secretion system of S. flexneri, thereby providing evidence that IncA, IncB and IncC are secreted by a type III mechanism in chlamydiae. Moreover, we show that three other proteins from Chlamydia pneumoniae, all of which have in common the presence of a large hydrophobic domain, are also secreted by S. flexneri type III secretion machinery.

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