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Mol Microbiol. 2014 Jun;92(6):1155-8. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12627. Epub 2014 May 19.

FhaC takes a bow to FHA in the two-partner do-si-do.

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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.


FhaC is an outer membrane transporter from Bordetella pertussis belonging to the two-partner secretion (TPS) pathway with its primary role being the secretion of the virulence factor filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA). FhaC serves as a model transporter of the TPS pathway and significant work has been done to characterize the role of FhaC in FHA secretion. Recent studies characterized interactions between FHA and the POTRA domains of FhaC, suggesting that secretion may involve a successive translocation mechanism mediated by β-augmentation and/or electrostatic interactions. Moreover, it was also shown that reconstituted FhaC is necessary and sufficient to transport FHA into proteoliposomes. While the crystal structure of FhaC clearly suggests a role in transport, the putative transport pore is plugged by an N-terminal α-helix (H1 helix) that occludes access by FHA. Therefore, it has been proposed that the H1 helix must be expelled from the pore in order for secretion of FHA to occur. However, this has yet to be shown experimentally. Guérin et al. (2014) report the first direct experimental evidence to show that the FhaC H1 helix is quite dynamic and exchanges between closed and open states upon interaction with FHA.

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