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Infect Immun. 2003 Jun;71(6):3310-9.

Secretin of the enteropathogenic Escherichia coli type III secretion system requires components of the type III apparatus for assembly and localization.

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  • 1Biotechnology Laboratory and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z3.


At least 16 proteins are thought to be involved in forming the enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) type III translocation apparatus which delivers virulence factors into host cells, yet their function and location have not been determined. A biochemical analysis was performed on three components: EscN, a predicted cytoplasmic ATPase; EscV, a predicted inner membrane protein; and EscC, a predicted outer membrane secretin. Wild-type EPEC and mutants constructed in these genes were fractionated by lysozyme treatment, ultracentrifugation, and selective detergent extraction. Fractionation revealed that the type III effectors Tir and EspB required a complete type III apparatus for any degree of export by EPEC, suggesting a continuous channel. Epitope-tagged EscC, EscV, and EscN were localized by fractionation, confirming computer modeling predictions for their location. Transcomplementation experiments revealed that localization of EscV and EscN was unaffected by mutations in other examined type III components. Remarkably, localization of EscC was altered in escV or escN mutants, where EscC accumulated in the periplasm. EscC was correctly localized in the escF needle component mutant, indicating that secretin localization is independent of needle formation. These data indicate that, contrary to previous indications, correct insertion and function of EscC secretin in the outer membrane depends not only on the sec-dependent secretion pathway but also on other type III apparatus components.

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