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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Jul;61(1):219-31.

ABC transporter-mediated release of a haem chaperone allows cytochrome c biogenesis.

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Washington University, Department of Biology Campus Box 1137, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Although organisms from all kingdoms have either the system I or II cytochrome c biogenesis pathway, it has remained a mystery as to why these two distinct pathways have developed. We have previously shown evidence that the system I pathway has a higher affinity for haem than system II for cytochrome c biogenesis. Here, we show the mechanism by which the system I pathway can utilize haem at low levels. The mechanism involves an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter that is required for release of the periplasmic haem chaperone CcmE to the last step of cytochrome c assembly. This ABC transporter is composed of the ABC subunit CcmA, and two membrane proteins, CcmB and CcmC. In the absence of CcmA or CcmB, holo(haem)CcmE binds to CcmC in a stable dead-end complex, indicating high affinity binding of haem to CcmC. Expression of CcmA and CcmB facilitates formation of the CcmA2B1C1 complex and ATP-dependent release of holoCcmE. We propose that the CcmA2B1C1 complex represents a new subgroup within the ABC transporter superfamily that functions to release a chaperone.

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