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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 17;112(7):2011-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415955112. Epub 2015 Feb 2.

Inhibition of the β-barrel assembly machine by a peptide that binds BamD.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; and.
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; and Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115


The protein complex that assembles integral membrane β-barrel proteins in the outer membranes of Gram-negative bacteria is an attractive target in the development of new antibiotics. This complex, the β-barrel assembly machine (Bam), contains two essential proteins, BamA and BamD. We have identified a peptide that inhibits the assembly of β-barrel proteins in vitro by characterizing the interaction of BamD with an unfolded substrate protein. This peptide is a fragment of the substrate protein and contains a conserved amino acid sequence. We have demonstrated that mutations of this sequence in the full-length substrate protein impair the protein's assembly, implying that BamD's interaction with this sequence is an important part of the assembly mechanism. Finally, we have found that in vivo expression of a peptide containing this sequence causes growth defects and sensitizes Escherichia coli to antibiotics to which they are normally resistant. Therefore, inhibiting the binding of substrates to BamD is a viable strategy for developing new antibiotics directed against Gram-negative bacteria.


Bam complex; inhibition; outer membrane; protein folding; β-barrel

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