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J Bacteriol. 2019 Sep 6;201(19). pii: e00218-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.00218-19. Print 2019 Oct 1.

The Carboxy-Terminal Region of Flavobacterium johnsoniae SprB Facilitates Its Secretion by the Type IX Secretion System and Propulsion by the Gliding Motility Machinery.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Minnesota State University-Mankato, Mankato, Minnesota, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Contributed equally


Flavobacterium johnsoniae SprB moves rapidly along the cell surface, resulting in gliding motility. SprB secretion requires the type IX secretion system (T9SS). Proteins secreted by the T9SS typically have conserved C-terminal domains (CTDs) belonging to the type A CTD or type B CTD family. Attachment of 70- to 100-amino-acid type A CTDs to a foreign protein allows its secretion. Type B CTDs are common but have received little attention. Secretion of the foreign protein superfolder green fluorescent protein (sfGFP) fused to regions spanning the SprB type B CTD (sfGFP-CTDSprB) was analyzed. CTDs of 218 amino acids or longer resulted in secretion of sfGFP, whereas a 149-amino-acid region did not. Some sfGFP was secreted in soluble form, whereas the rest was attached on the cell surface. Surface-attached sfGFP was rapidly propelled along the cell, suggesting productive interaction with the motility machinery. This did not result in rapid cell movement, which apparently requires additional regions of SprB. Secretion of sfGFP-CTDSprB required coexpression with sprF, which lies downstream of sprB SprF is similar in sequence to Porphyromonas gingivalis PorP. Most F. johnsoniae genes encoding proteins with type B CTDs lie immediately upstream of porP/sprF-like genes. sfGFP was fused to the type B CTD from one such protein (Fjoh_3952). This resulted in secretion of sfGFP only when it was coexpressed with its cognate PorP/SprF-like protein. These results highlight the need for extended regions of type B CTDs and for coexpression with the appropriate PorP/SprF-like protein for efficient secretion and cell surface localization of cargo proteins.IMPORTANCE The F. johnsoniae gliding motility adhesin SprB is delivered to the cell surface by the type IX secretion system (T9SS) and is rapidly propelled along the cell by the motility machinery. How this 6,497-amino-acid protein interacts with the secretion and motility machines is not known. Fusion of the C-terminal 218 amino acids of SprB to a foreign cargo protein resulted in its secretion, attachment to the cell surface, and rapid movement by the motility machinery. Efficient secretion of SprB required coexpression with the outer membrane protein SprF. Secreted proteins that have sequence similarity to SprB in their C-terminal regions are common in the phylum Bacteroidetes and may have roles in adhesion, motility, and virulence.


Bacteroidetes; Flavobacterium; gliding motility; protein secretion

[Available on 2020-03-06]

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