UNLABELLED: The periplasmic chaperone SurA is critical for the biogenesis of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) and, thus, the maintenance of membrane integrity in Escherichia coli. The activity of this modular chaperone has been attributed to a core chaperone module, with only minor importance assigned to the two SurA peptidyl-prolyl isomerase (PPIase) domains. In this work, we used synthetic phenotypes and covalent tethering to demonstrate that the activity of SurA is regulated by its PPIase domains and, furthermore, that its activity is correlated with the conformational state of the chaperone. When combined with mutations in the β-barrel assembly machine (BAM), SurA mutations resulting in deletion of the second parvulin domain (P2) inhibit OMP assembly, suggesting that P2 is involved in the regulation of SurA. The first parvulin domain (P1) potentiates this autoinhibition, as mutations that covalently tether the P1 domain to the core chaperone module severely impair OMP assembly. Furthermore, these inhibitory mutations negate the suppression of and biochemically stabilize the protein specified by a well-characterized gain-of-function mutation in P1, demonstrating that SurA cycles between distinct conformational and functional states during the OMP assembly process.
IMPORTANCE: This work reveals the reversible autoinhibition of the SurA chaperone imposed by a heretofore underappreciated parvulin domain. Many β-barrel-associated outer membrane (OM) virulence factors, including the P-pilus and type I fimbriae, rely on SurA for proper assembly; thus, a mechanistic understanding of SurA function and inhibition may facilitate antibiotic intervention against Gram-negative pathogens, such as uropathogenic Escherichia coli, E. coli O157:H7, Shigella, and Salmonella. In addition, SurA is important for the assembly of critical OM biogenesis factors, such as the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) transport machine, suggesting that specific targeting of SurA may provide a useful means to subvert the OM barrier.
UNLABELLED: The promoter most strongly induced upon activation of the Cpx two-component envelope stress response is the cpxP promoter. The 3' untranscribed region (UTR) of the cpxP transcript is shown to produce a small RNA (sRNA), CpxQ. We investigated the role of CpxQ in combating envelope stress. Remarkably, the two effectors specified by the transcript are deployed to combat distinct stresses in different cellular compartments. CpxP acts in both a regulatory negative-feedback loop and as an effector that combats periplasmic protein misfolding. We find that CpxQ combats toxicity at the inner membrane (IM) by downregulating the synthesis of the periplasmic chaperone Skp. Our data indicate that this regulation prevents Skp from inserting β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) into the IM, a lethal event that likely collapses the proton motive force. Our findings suggest that Skp can fold and directly insert OMPs into a lipid bilayer in vivo without the aid of the Bam complex.
IMPORTANCE: Skp is a well-characterized periplasmic chaperone that binds unfolded OMPs. Surprisingly, we find that Skp can catalyze the folding and mistargeting of OMPs into the inner membrane without the aid of the other cellular proteins that normally assemble OMPs. Several OMPs function as diffusion pores. Accordingly, their mistargeting is lethal because it depolarizes the inner membrane. We show that the most highly expressed transcript of the Cpx stress response produces an sRNA from the 3' UTR, CpxQ, which combats this potential toxicity by downregulating Skp production. Defects in OMP assembly trigger the σ(E)response to upregulate factors, including Skp, that promote OMP folding. The Cpx response downregulates σ(E) Our findings reveal that this heretofore puzzling hierarchy exists to protect the inner membrane.
Gram-negative bacteria balance synthesis of the outer membrane (OM), cell wall, and cytoplasmic contents during growth via unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that a dominant mutation (designated mlaA*, maintenance of lipid asymmetry) that alters MlaA, a lipoprotein that removes phospholipids from the outer leaflet of the OM of Escherichia coli, increases OM permeability, lipopolysaccharide levels, drug sensitivity, and cell death in stationary phase. Surprisingly, single-cell imaging revealed that death occurs after protracted loss of OM material through vesiculation and blebbing at cell-division sites and compensatory shrinkage of the inner membrane, eventually resulting in rupture and slow leakage of cytoplasmic contents. The death of mlaA* cells was linked to fatty acid depletion and was not affected by membrane depolarization, suggesting that lipids flow from the inner membrane to the OM in an energy-independent manner. Suppressor analysis suggested that the dominant mlaA* mutation activates phospholipase A, resulting in increased levels of lipopolysaccharide and OM vesiculation that ultimately undermine the integrity of the cell envelope by depleting the inner membrane of phospholipids. This novel cell-death pathway suggests that balanced synthesis across both membranes is key to the mechanical integrity of the Gram-negative cell envelope.
Gram-negative bacteria have a double-membrane cellular envelope that enables them to colonize harsh environments and prevents the entry of many clinically available antibiotics. A main component of most outer membranes is lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a glycolipid containing several fatty acyl chains and up to hundreds of sugars that is synthesized in the cytoplasm. In the past two decades, the proteins that are responsible for transporting LPS across the cellular envelope and assembling it at the cell surface in Escherichia coli have been identified, but it remains unclear how they function. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in this area and present a model that explains how energy from the cytoplasm is used to power LPS transport across the cellular envelope to the cell surface.
The assembly of β-barrel proteins into membranes is mediated by an evolutionarily conserved machine. This process is poorly understood because no stable partially folded barrel substrates have been characterized. Here, we slowed the folding of the Escherichia coli β-barrel protein, LptD, with its lipoprotein plug, LptE. We identified a late-stage intermediate in which LptD is folded around LptE, and both components interact with the two essential β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) components, BamA and BamD. We propose a model in which BamA and BamD act in concert to catalyze folding, with the final step in the process involving closure of the ends of the barrel with release from the Bam components. Because BamD and LptE are both soluble proteins, the simplest model consistent with these findings is that barrel folding by the Bam complex begins in the periplasm at the membrane interface.
UNLABELLED: The biogenesis of the outer membrane (OM) of Escherichia coli is a conserved and vital process. The assembly of integral β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs), which represent a major component of the OM, depends on periplasmic chaperones and the heteropentameric β-barrel assembly machine (Bam complex) in the OM. However, not all OMPs are affected by null mutations in the same chaperones or nonessential Bam complex members, suggesting there are categories of substrates with divergent requirements for efficient assembly. We have previously demonstrated two classes of substrates, one comprising large, low-abundance, and difficult-to-assemble substrates that are heavily dependent on SurA and also Skp and FkpA, and the other comprising relatively simple and abundant substrates that are not as dependent on SurA but are strongly dependent on BamB for assembly. Here, we describe novel mutations in bamD that lower levels of BamD 10-fold and >25-fold without altering the sequence of the mature protein. We utilized these mutations, as well as a previously characterized mutation that lowers wild-type BamA levels, to reveal a third class of substrates. These mutations preferentially cause a marked decrease in the levels of multimeric proteins. This susceptibility of multimers to lowered quantities of Bam machines in the cell may indicate that multiple Bam complexes are needed to efficiently assemble multimeric proteins into the OM.
IMPORTANCE: The outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, serves as a selective permeability barrier that prevents the uptake of toxic molecules and antibiotics. Integral β-barrel proteins (OMPs) are assembled by the β-barrel assembly machine (Bam), components of which are conserved in mitochondria, chloroplasts, and all Gram-negative bacteria, including many clinically relevant pathogenic species. Bam is essential for OM biogenesis and accommodates a diverse array of client proteins; however, a mechanistic model that accounts for the selectivity and broad substrate range of Bam is lacking. Here, we show that the assembly of multimeric OMPs is more strongly affected than that of monomeric OMPs when essential Bam complex components are limiting, suggesting that multiple Bam complexes are needed to assemble multimeric proteins.
Lipoprotein RcsF is the OM component of the Rcs envelope stress response. RcsF exists in complexes with β-barrel proteins (OMPs) allowing it to adopt a transmembrane orientation with a lipidated N-terminal domain on the cell surface and a periplasmic C-terminal domain. Here we report that mutations that remove BamE or alter a residue in the RcsF trans-lumen domain specifically prevent assembly of the interlocked complexes without inactivating either RcsF or the OMP. Using these mutations we demonstrate that these RcsF/OMP complexes are required for sensing OM outer leaflet stress. Using mutations that alter the positively charged surface-exposed domain, we show that RcsF monitors lateral interactions between lipopolysaccharide (LPS) molecules. When these interactions are disrupted by cationic antimicrobial peptides, or by the loss of negatively charged phosphate groups on the LPS molecule, this information is transduced to the RcsF C-terminal signaling domain located in the periplasm to activate the stress response.
UNLABELLED: The σE envelope stress response is an essential signal transduction pathway which detects and removes mistargeted outer membrane (OM) β-barrel proteins (OMPs) in the periplasm of Escherichia coli It relies on σE, an alternative sigma factor encoded by the rpoE gene. Here we report a novel mutation, a nucleotide change of C to A in the third base of the second codon, which increases levels of σE (rpoE_S2R). The rpoE_S2R mutation does not lead to the induction of the stress response during normal growth but instead changes the dynamics of induction upon periplasmic stress, resulting in a faster and more robust response. This allows cells to adapt faster to the periplasmic stress, avoiding lethal accumulation of unfolded OMPs in the periplasm caused by severe defects in the OMP assembly pathway.
IMPORTANCE: Survival of bacteria under conditions of external or internal stresses depends on timely induction of stress response signaling pathways to regulate expression of appropriate genes that function to maintain cellular homeostasis. Previous studies have shown that strong preinduction of envelope stress responses can allow bacteria to survive a number of lethal genetic perturbations. In our paper, we describe a unique mutation that enhances kinetics of the σE envelope stress response pathway rather than preinducing the response. This allows bacteria to quickly adapt to sudden and severe periplasmic stress.
Bacterial lipoproteins are lipid-anchored proteins that contain acyl groups covalently attached to the N-terminal cysteine residue of the mature protein. Lipoproteins are synthesized in precursor form with an N-terminal signal sequence (SS) that targets translocation across the cytoplasmic or inner membrane (IM). Lipid modification and SS processing take place at the periplasmic face of the IM. Outer membrane (OM) lipoproteins take the localization of lipoproteins (Lol) export pathway, which ends with the insertion of the N-terminal lipid moiety into the inner leaflet of the OM. For many lipoproteins, the biogenesis pathway ends here. We provide examples of lipoproteins that adopt complex topologies in the OM that include transmembrane and surface-exposed domains. Biogenesis of such lipoproteins requires additional steps beyond the Lol pathway. In at least one case, lipoprotein sequences reach the cell surface by being threaded through the lumen of a beta-barrel protein in an assembly reaction that requires the heteropentomeric Bam complex. The inability to predict surface exposure reinforces the importance of experimental verification of lipoprotein topology and we will discuss some of the methods used to study OM protein topology.
In Gram-negative bacteria, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) contributes to the robust permeability barrier of the outer membrane, preventing entry of toxic molecules such as antibiotics. Mutations in lptD, the beta-barrel component of the LPS transport and assembly machinery, compromise LPS assembly and result in increased antibiotic sensitivity. Here, we report rare vancomycin-resistant suppressors that improve barrier function of a subset of lptD mutations. We find that all seven suppressors analyzed mapped to the essential gene cdsA, which is responsible for the conversion of phosphatidic acid to CDP-diacylglycerol in phospholipid biosynthesis. These cdsA mutations cause a partial loss of function and, as expected, accumulate phosphatidic acid. We show that this suppression is not confined to mutations that cause defects in outer membrane biogenesis but rather that these cdsA mutations confer a general increase in vancomycin resistance, even in a wild-type cell. We use genetics and quadrupole time of flight (Q-TOF) liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to show that accumulation of phosphatidic acid by means other than cdsA mutations also increases resistance to vancomycin. We suggest that increased levels of phosphatidic acid change the physical properties of the outer membrane to impede entry of vancomycin into the periplasm, hindering access to its target, an intermediate required for the synthesis of the peptidoglycan cell wall.
Targeted, translational LacZ fusions provided the initial support for the signal sequence hypothesis in prokaryotes and allowed for selection of the mutations that identified the Sec translocon. Many of these selections relied on the fact that expression of targeted, translational lacZ fusions like malE-lacZ and lamB-lacZ42-1 causes lethal toxicity as folded LacZ jams the translocation pore. However, there is another class of targeted LacZ fusions that do not jam the translocon. These targeted, nonjamming fusions also show toxic phenotypes that may be useful for selecting mutations in genes involved in posttranslocational protein folding and targeting; however, they have not been investigated to the same extent as their jamming counterparts. In fact, it is still unclear whether LacZ can be fully translocated in these fusions. It may be that they simply partition into the inner membrane where they can no longer participate in folding or assembly. In the present study, we systematically characterize the nonjamming fusions and determine their ultimate localization. We report that LacZ can be fully translocated into the periplasm, where it is toxic. We show that this toxicity is likely due to LacZ misfolding and that, in the absence of the periplasmic disulfide bond catalyst DsbA, LacZ folds in the periplasm. Using the novel phenotype of periplasmic β-galactosidase activity, we show that the periplasmic chaperone FkpA contributes to LacZ folding in this nonnative compartment. We propose that targeted, nonjamming LacZ fusions may be used to further study folding and targeting in the periplasm of Escherichia coli.
The assembly of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on the surface of Gram-negative bacterial cells is essential for their viability and is achieved by the seven-protein LPS transport (Lpt) pathway. The outer membrane (OM) lipoprotein LptE and the β-barrel membrane protein LptD form a complex that assembles LPS into the outer leaflet of the OM. We report a crystal structure of the Escherichia coli OM lipoprotein LptE at 2.34 Å. The structure reveals homology to eukaryotic LPS-binding proteins and allowed for the prediction of an LPS-binding site, which was confirmed by genetic and biophysical experiments. Specific point mutations at this site lead to defects in OM biogenesis. We show that wild-type LptE disrupts LPS-LPS interactions in vitro and that these mutations decrease the ability of LptE to disaggregate LPS. Transmission electron microscopic imaging shows that LptE can disrupt LPS aggregates even at substoichiometric concentrations. We propose a model in which LptE functions as an LPS transfer protein in the OM translocon by disaggregating LPS during transport to allow for its insertion into the OM.