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Microbiology. 2007 Jun;153(Pt 6):1953-1962. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2006/004952-0.

EscC is a chaperone for the Edwardsiella tarda type III secretion system putative translocon components EseB and EseD.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, 117543, Singapore.
Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, China.


Edwardsiella tarda is a Gram-negative enteric pathogen that causes disease in both humans and animals. Recently, a type III secretion system (T3SS) has been found to contribute to Ed. tarda pathogenesis. EseB, EseC and EseD were shown to be secreted by the T3SS and to be the major components of the extracellular proteins (ECPs). Based on sequence similarity, they have been proposed to function as the 'translocon' of the T3SS needle structure. In this study, it was shown that EseB, EseC and EseD formed a protein complex after secretion, which is consistent with their possible roles as translocon components. The secretion of EseB and EseD was dependent on EscC (previously named Orf2). EscC has the characteristics of a chaperone; it is a small protein (13 kDa), located next to the translocators in the T3SS gene cluster, and has a coiled-coil structure at the N-terminal region as predicted by coils. An in-frame deletion of escC abolished the secretion of EseB and EseD, and complementation of DeltaescC restored the export of EseB and EseD into the culture supernatant. Further studies showed that EscC is not a secreted protein and is located on the membrane and in the cytoplasm. Mutation of escC did not affect the transcription of eseB but reduced the amount of EseB as measured by using an EseB-LacZ fusion protein in Ed. tarda. Co-purification studies demonstrated that EscC formed complexes with EseB and EseD. The results suggest that EscC functions as a T3SS chaperone for the putative translocon components EseB and EseD in Ed. tarda.

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