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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Oct;42(1):229-43.

Structure, organization and characterization of the gene cluster involved in the production of microcin E492, a channel-forming bacteriocin.

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Departamento de BiologĂ­a, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile.


Microcin E492 is a low-molecular-weight, channel-forming bacteriocin produced and excreted by Klebsiella pneumoniae RYC492. A 13 kb chromosomal DNA fragment from K. pneumoniae RYC492 was sequenced, and it was demonstrated by random Tn5 mutagenesis that most of this segment, which has at least 10 cistrons, is needed for the production of active microcin and its immunity protein. Genes mceG and mceH correspond to an ABC exporter and its accessory protein, respectively, and they are closely related to the colicin V ABC export system. The microcin E492 system also requires the product of gene mceF as an additional factor for export. Despite the fact that this bacteriocin lacks post-translational modifications, genes mceC, mceI and mceJ are needed for the production of active microcin. Genes mceC and mceI are homologous to a glycosyl transferase and acyltransferase, respectively, whereas mceJ has no known homologue. Mutants in these three genes secrete an inactive form of microcin, able to form ion channels in a phospholipidic bilayer, indicating that the mutation of these microcin genes does not alter the process of membrane insertion. On the other hand, microcin isolated from mutants in genes mceC and mceJ has a lethal effect when incubated with spheroplasts of sensitive cells, indicating that the microcin defects in these mutants are likely to alter receptor recognition at the outer membrane. A model for synthesis and export is proposed as well as a novel maturation pathway that would involve conformational changes to explain the production of active microcin E492.

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