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Biochem J. 2008 Jun 15;412(3):563-77. doi: 10.1042/BJ20071497.

Effect of glycosylation on the extracellular domain of the Ag43 bacterial autotransporter: enhanced stability and reduced cellular aggregation.

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Department of Life Sciences, Aalborg University, Sohngaardsholmsvej 49, DK-9000 Aalborg, Denmark.


Autotransporters constitute the biggest group of secreted proteins in Gram-negative bacteria and contain a membrane-bound beta-domain and a passenger domain secreted to the extracellular environment via an unusually long N-terminal sequence. Several passenger domains are known to be glycosylated by cytosolic glycosyl transferases, promoting bacterial attachment to mammalian cells. In the present study we describe the effect of glycosylation on the extracellular passenger domain of the Escherichia coli autotransporter Ag43alpha, which induces frizzy colony morphology and cell settling. We identify 16 glycosylation sites and suggest two possible glycosylation motifs for serine and threonine residues. Glycosylation stabilizes against thermal and chemical denaturation and increases refolding kinetics. Unexpectedly, glycosylation also reduces the stabilizing effect of Ca(2+) ions, removes the ability of Ca(2+) to promote cell adhesion, reduces the ability of Ag43alpha-containing cells to form bacterial amyloid and increases the susceptibility of the resulting amyloid to proteolysis. In addition, our results indicate that Ag43alpha folds without a stable intermediate, unlike pertactin, indicating that autotransporters may arrive at the native state by a variety of different mechanisms despite a common overall structure. A small but significant fraction of Ag43alpha can survive intact in the periplasm if expressed without the beta-domain, suggesting that it is able to adopt a protease-resistant structure prior to translocation across the membrane. The present study demonstrates that glycosylation may play significant roles in structural and functional properties of bacterial autotransporters at many different levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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