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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Oct;46(1):1-11.

Chaperones of the type III secretion pathway: jacks of all trades.

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Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire, INSERM U389, Institut Pasteur, 28 rue du Docteur Roux, 75015 Paris, France.


The type III secretion (TTS) pathway is used by many Gram-negative bacteria to inject virulence proteins into cells of their host. The activity of the TTS apparatus is controlled by external signals and, in certain conditions, production and secretion are not coupled. Storage of some proteins before secretion involves their association with specific chaperones. Three classes of TTS chaperones have been distinguished according to whether they associate with: (i) one; (ii) several effector proteins; or (iii) the two translocators that allow passage of effectors across the membrane of eukaryotic cells. These chaperones are required for stabilization of their substrate(s) and prevention of their premature interactions with other partners during storage. They also play a role in secretion of their substrate(s). Some chaperones are also involved in transcriptional regulation of certain genes in response to the activity of secretion. The flagellar export apparatus is closely related to the TTS apparatus and some proteins of the flagellar export system have also been proposed to be chaperones that prevent premature interactions between the flagellum subunits.

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