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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Jan;59(1):248-64.

The chaperone binding domain of SopE inhibits transport via flagellar and SPI-1 TTSS in the absence of InvB.

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Institute of Microbiology, D-BIOL, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Type III secretion systems (TTSS) are used by many Gram-negative pathogens for transporting effector proteins into eukaryotic host cells. Two modes of type III effector protein transport can be distinguished: transport into the surrounding medium (secretion) and cell-contact induced injection of effector proteins directly into the host cell cytosol (translocation). Two domains within the N-terminal regions of effector proteins determine the mode of transport. The amino terminal approximately 20 amino acids (N-terminal secretion signal, NSS) mediate secretion. In contrast, translocation generally requires the NSS, the adjacent approximately 100 amino acids (chaperone binding domain, CBD) and binding of the cognate chaperone to this CBD. TTSS are phylogenetically related to flagellar systems. Because both systems are expressed in Salmonella Typhimurium, correct effector protein transport involves at least two decisions: transport via the Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1) but not the flagellar TTSS (= specificity) and translocation into the host cell instead of secretion into the surrounding media (= transport mode). The mechanisms guiding these decisions are poorly understood. We have studied the S. Typhimurium effector protein SopE, which is specifically transported via the SPI-1 TTSS. Secretion and translocation strictly require the cognate chaperone InvB. Alanine replacement of amino acids 30-42 (and to some extent 44-54) abolished tight InvB binding, abolished translocation into the host cell and led to secretion of SopE via both, the flagellar and the SPI-1 TTSS. In clear contrast to wild-type SopE, secretion of SopE(Ala30-42) and SopE(Ala44-54) via the SPI-1 and the flagellar export system did not require InvB. These data reveal a novel function of the CBD: the CBD inhibits secretion of wild-type SopE via the flagellar and the SPI-1 TTSS in the absence of the chaperone InvB. Our data provide new insights into mechanisms ensuring specific effector protein transport by TTSS.

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