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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jun;28(6):1235-46.

Identification of an additional member of the secretin superfamily of proteins in Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is able to function in type II protein secretion.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61810, USA.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a prolific exporter of virulence factors and contains three of the four protein secretion systems that have been described in gram-negative bacteria. The P. aeruginosa type II general secretory pathway (GSP) is used to export the largest number of proteins from this organism, including lipase, phospholipase C, alkaline phosphatase, exotoxin A, elastase and LasA. Although these exoproteins contain no sequence similarity, they are specifically and efficiently transported by the secretion apparatus. Bacterial homologues of XcpQ (GspD), the only outer membrane component of this system, have been proposed to play the role of gatekeeper, by presumably interacting and recognizing the exported substrates to allow their passage through the outer membrane. While determining the phenotype of nonpolar deletions in each of the xcp genes, we have shown that a deletion of the P. aeruginosa strain K xcpQ does not completely abolish protein secretion. As the proposed function of XcpQ should be requisite for secretion, we searched for additional factors that could carry out this role. A cosmid DNA library from a PAK strain deleted for xcpP-Z was tested for its ability to increase protein secretion by screening for enhanced growth on lipid agar, a medium that selects for the secretion of lipase. In this manner, we have identified an XcpQ homologue, XqhA, that is solely responsible for the residual export observed in a deltaxcpQ strain, although it is not required for efficient secretion in wild-type P. aeruginosa. We have also demonstrated that this protein is capable of recognizing all of the exoproteins of P. aeruginosa, arguing against the proposed role of members of the secretin family as determinants of specificity.

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