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EMBO J. 1996 Jan 2;15(1):162-71.

Involvement of stress protein PspA (phage shock protein A) of Escherichia coli in maintenance of the protonmotive force under stress conditions.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands


The expression of specific PhoE mutant proteins leads to induction of the expression of the psp operon of Escherichia coli and the export of various plasmid-encoded precursors is retarded in a pspA mutant strain. Here, we have investigated the specific role of various Psp proteins in the export process. PspB and PspC are both inner membrane proteins that are involved in the regulation of the transcription of the psp operon. Precursor PhoE translocation was retarded in a pspB mutant strain to a similar extent as in a pspA mutant strain. The reduced translocation efficiencies in the various psp mutants could be complemented by expression of PspA from a plasmid, indicating that only PspA is required for efficient translocation. Mutant prePhoE proteins that can be translocated independently of the deltamu H+ appeared to translocate equally efficiently in a wild-type and in a pspA mutant strain. Furthermore, quantitative in vivo determination of the deltamu H+ showed that it specifically decreased in a pspA mutant strain upon expression of plasmid-encoded (mutant) prePhoE protein. Apparently, the translocation defects observed in a psp mutant strain are caused by a decrease of the delta mu H+ and PspA functions by maintaining the delta mu H+ under these conditions.

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