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Infect Immun. 2005 Jan;73(1):135-45.

Molecular aspects of biogenesis of Escherichia coli Dr Fimbriae: characterization of DraB-DraE complexes.

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Department of Microbiology, Gdańsk University of Technology, ul. Narutowicza 11/12, 80-952 Gdańsk, Poland.


The Dr hemagglutinin of uropathogenic Escherichia coli is a fimbrial homopolymer of DraE subunits encoded by the dra operon. The dra operon includes the draB and draC genes, whose products exhibit homology to chaperone-usher proteins involved in the biogenesis of surface-located polymeric structures. DraB is one of the periplasmic proteins belonging to the superfamily of PapD-like chaperones. It possesses two conserved cysteine residues characteristic of the FGL subfamily of Caf1M-like chaperones. In this study we obtained evidence that DraB cysteines form a disulfide bond in a mature chaperone and have the crucial function of forming the DraB-DraE binary complex. Expression experiments showed that the DraB protein is indispensable in the folding of the DraE subunit to a form capable of polymerization. Accumulation of DraB-DraE(n) oligomers, composed of head-to-tail subunits and the chaperone DraB, was observed in the periplasm of a recombinant E. coli strain which expressed DraB and DraE (but not DraC). To investigate the donor strand exchange mechanism during the formation of DraE oligomers, we constructed a series of DraE N-terminal deletion mutants. Deletion of the first three N-terminal residues of a potential donor strand resulted in a DraE protein lacking an oligomerization function. In vitro data showed that the DraE disulfide bond was not needed to form a binary complex with the DraB chaperone but was essential in the polymerization process. Our data suggest that assembly of Dr fimbriae requires a chaperone-usher pathway and the donor strand exchange mechanism.

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