Selection for suppressors of defects in the signal sequence of secretory proteins has led most commonly to identification of prlA alleles and less often to identification of prlG alleles. These genes, secY/prlA and secE/prlG, encode integral membrane components of the protein translocation system of Escherichia coli. We demonstrate that an outer membrane protein, LamB, that lacks a signal sequence can be exported with reasonable efficiency in both prlA and prlG suppressor strains. Although the signal sequence is not absolutely required for export of LamB, the level of export in the absence of prl suppressor alleles is exceedingly low. Such strains are phenotypically LamB-, and functional LamB can be detected only by using sensitive infectious-center assays. Suppression of the LamB signal sequence deletion is dependent on normal components of the export pathway, indicating that suppression is not occurring through a bypass mechanism. Our results indicate that the majority of the known prlA suppressors function by an identical mechanism and, further, that the prlG suppressors work in a similar fashion. We propose that both PrlA and PrlG suppressors lack a proofreading activity that normally rejects defective precursors from the export pathway.
The SecY protein of Escherichia coli and its homologues in other organisms, are integral components of the cellular protein translocation machinery. Suppressor mutations that alter SecY (the prlA alleles) broaden the specificity of this machinery and allow secretion of precursor proteins with defective signal sequences. Twenty-five prlA alleles have been characterized. These suppressor mutations were found to cluster in regions corresponding to three distinct topological domains of SecY. Based on the nature and position of the prlA mutations, we propose that transmembrane domain 7 of SecY functions in signal sequence recognition. Results suggest that this interaction may involve a right-handed supercoil of alpha-helices. Suppressor mutations that alter this domain appear to prevent signal sequence recognition, and this novel mechanism of suppression suggests a proofreading function for SecY. We propose that suppressor mutations that alter a second domain of SecY, transmembrane helix 10, also affect this proof-reading function, but indirectly. Based on the synthetic phenotypes exhibited by double mutants, we propose that these mutations strengthen the interaction with another component of the translocation machinery, SecE. Suppressor mutations were also found to cluster in a region corresponding to an amino-terminal periplasmic domain. Possible explanations for this unexpected finding are discussed.
Proteins destined for either the periplasm or the outer membrane of Escherichia coli are translocated from the cytoplasm by a common mechanism. It is generally assumed that outer membrane proteins, such as LamB (maltoporin or lambda receptor), which are rich in beta-structure, contain additional targeting information that directs proper membrane insertion. During transit to the outer membrane, these proteins may pass, in soluble form, through the periplasm or remain membrane associated and reach their final destination via sites of inner membrane-outer membrane contact (zones of adhesion). We report lamB mutations that slow signal sequence cleavage, delay release of the protein from the inner membrane, and interfere with maltoporin biogenesis. This result is most easily explained by proposing a soluble, periplasmic LamB assembly intermediate. Additionally, we found that such lamB mutations confer several novel phenotypes consistent with an abortive attempt by the cell to target these tethered LamB molecules. These phenotypes may allow isolation of mutants in which the process of outer membrane protein targeting is altered.
We have used fusions of the outer membrane protein LamB to beta-galactosidase (encoded by lacZ) to study the protein export process. This LamB-LacZ hybrid protein blocks export when synthesized at high levels, as evidenced by inducer (maltose) sensitivity, a phenomenon termed LacZ hybrid jamming. The prlF1 mutation relieves LacZ hybrid jamming and allows localization of the fusion protein to a noncytoplasmic compartment. prlF1 and similar alleles are gain-of-function mutations. Null mutations in this gene confer no obvious phenotypes. Extragenic suppressors of a gain-of-function prlF allele have been isolated in order to understand how this gene product affects the export process. The suppressors are all lon null mutations, and they are epistatic to all prlF phenotypes tested. Lon protease activity has been measured in prlF1 cells and shown to be increased. However, the synthesis of Lon is not increased in a prlF1 background, suggesting a previously unidentified mechanism of Lon activation. Further analysis reveals that prlF1 activates degradation of cytoplasmically localized precursors in a Lon protease-dependent manner. It is proposed that accumulation of precursors during conditions of hybrid protein jamming titrates an essential export component(s), possibly a chaperone. Increased Lon-dependent precursor degradation would free this component, thus allowing increased protein export under jamming conditions.
The sec/prl gene products catalyze the translocation of precursor proteins from the cytoplasm of Escherichia coli. Recessive, conditionally lethal mutant alleles of these genes (sec mutations) cause a generalized defect in protein secretion; dominant suppressor mutant alleles (prl mutations) restore export of precursor proteins with altered signal sequences. In prl strains, a precursor protein with a defective signal sequence can be selectively targeted to the suppressor gene product. When a precursor LacZ hybrid protein is used, the targeted prl protein is inactivated by the large, toxic hybrid molecule, a result termed suppressor-directed inactivation (SDI). Using SDI, two different secretion-related complexes can be generated: a pretranslocation complex that contains a hybrid protein with an unprocessed signal sequence, and a translocation complex in which the hybrid protein is jammed in transmembrane orientation with the signal sequence cleaved. Additional Sec proteins that are contained within, and thus sequestered by, each of these complexes can be identified when their functional levels are lowered using the conditional lethal sec mutations. Results of this genetic analysis suggest a multistep pathway for protein secretion in which the translocation machinery assembles on demand.
OmpR and EnvZ differentially control the transcription of the major outer membrane porin genes, ompF and ompC, in Escherichia coli in response to the osmolarity of the medium. We have previously provided evidence that OmpR works both positively and negatively at the ompF promoter to give the characteristic switch from OmpF to OmpC production with increasing osmolarity. Here, we describe the isolation of cis-acting ompF mutations that affect negative regulation by OmpR by affecting the three-dimensional structure of the promoter region as measured by agarose gel mobility. These results further clarify the mechanism by which OmpR negatively regulates ompF expression, suggesting a model in which OmpR forms a repressive loop in the ompF promoter region.
Osmoregulation of the bacterial porin genes ompF and ompC is controlled by a two-component regulatory system. EnvZ, the sensor component of this system, is capable both of phosphorylating and dephosphorylating OmpR, the effector component. Mutations were isolated in envZ that abolish the expression of both porin genes. These mutants appear to have lost the kinase activity of EnvZ while retaining their phosphatase activity, so that in their presence OmpR is completely unphosphorylated. The behavior of these mutants in haploid, and in diploid with other envZ alleles, is consistent with a model in which EnvZ mediates osmoregulation by controlling the concentration of a single species. OmpR-P.
Mutations of Escherichia coli K-12 were isolated that increase the frequency of deletion formation. Three of these mutations map to the gene sbcB at 43.5 min on the E. coli chromosome. Two types of mutations at sbcB have been previously defined: sbcB-type that suppress both the UV sensitivity and recombination deficiency of recBC mutants, and xonA-type that suppress only the UV sensitivity. Both types are defective for production of exonuclease I activity. The mutations isolated here were similar to xonA alleles of sbcB because they suppressed the UV sensitivity of recBC mutants but did not restore recombination proficiency. Indeed, two previously characterized xonA alleles were shown to increase the frequency of deletion formation, although an sbcB allele did not. This result demonstrates that loss of exonuclease I activity is not sufficient to confer a high deletion phenotype, rather, the product of the sbcB gene possesses some other function that is important for deletion formation. Because deletion formation in this system is recA independent and does not require extensive DNA homology, these mutations affect a pathway of illegitimate recombination.
Results presented in this study demonstrate that a mutation which inserts an additional tyrosine between the 2 tyrosines at residues 118 and 119 of mature LamB protein results in a temperature-dependent assembly defect. This defect leads to the accumulation of an intermediate at the restrictive temperature that is most likely an assembly-defective monomer. These monomers are rapidly degraded in the wild type (htrA+) strain, and the biphasic kinetics of this degradation indicate that the mutation affects the assembly process and not the final product, i.e. stable trimers. In addition, our data show that the temperature-dependent assembly defect in the mutant strain is reversible, and therefore the accumulated monomers represent a true assembly intermediate. Fractionation studies show that the monomers, which can be accumulated in htrA (degP) mutants at the restrictive temperature, are associated with the outer membrane, indicating that trimerization of LamB is not a prerequisite for localization.
We have isolated mutations in rpoA, the gene encoding the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase, that specifically affect transcriptional control by OmpR and EnvZ, the two-component regulatory system that controls porin gene expression in Escherichia coli. Characterization of these mutations and a previously isolated rpoA allele suggests that both positive and negative regulation of porin gene transcription involves a direct interaction between OmpR and RNA polymerase through the alpha subunit. Several of the rpoA mutations cluster in the carboxy-terminal portion of the alpha protein, further suggesting that it is this domain of alpha that is involved in interaction with OmpR and perhaps other transcriptional regulators as well.
A new paradigm, termed two-component regulatory systems, is emerging from the study of signal transduction in bacteria. A simple example of such a system is provided by the Omp regulon of Escherichia coli. This regulon, which controls the expression of the major outer membrane porin proteins OmpF and OmpC in response to changes in osmolarity, includes the inner membrane protein EnvZ (a receptor kinase) and the DNA-binding protein OmpR (a transcriptional activator). Although we do not know what "ligand" is sensed in the Omp system, we can trace the signal transduction pathway from the receptor at the cell surface directly to regulatory sequences within the DNA. Perhaps signal transduction in bacteria can serve as a simple archetype for understanding certain functions performed by receptor kinases and phosphorylated DNA-binding proteins in higher organisms.
Genetic studies have identified six genes whose products comprise the general protein secretion machinery of Escherichia coli. Insights from mutant analysis and the biochemical properties of the purified components allows the secretion pathway to be described in some detail. The picture emerging provides a useful paradigm for similar pathways in other organisms.
The use of lacZ gene fusions, producing a hybrid protein containing an amino terminus specified by a target gene fused to the functional carboxy terminus of beta-galactosidase, has facilitated the study of protein targeting in various organisms. One of the best characterized fusions in Escherichia coli is phi(lamB-lacZ)42-1(Hyb), which produces a hybrid protein with the signal sequence and 181 N-terminal amino acids of the exported protein LamB, attached to LacZ. In common with other LacZ hybrids, the LamB-LacZ(42-1) protein is poorly exported from E. coli, conferring a Lac+ phenotype. beta-Galactosidase activity decreases markedly when cells producing the LamB-LacZ protein are grown at 42 degrees C or when a heat-shock response is induced at lower temperatures by overproducing heat-shock factor RpoH3, indicating the LacZ hybrids are being efficiently targeted to the cell envelope. We now report that the heat-shock proteins DnaK and GroEL can, in sufficient amounts, decrease beta-galactosidase activity and facilitate the export of lacZ-hybrid proteins.
Three strategies for genetic analysis show that two inner membrane components of the export machinery, PrlA (SecY) and PrlG (SecE), interact directly while catalyzing the translocation of secreted proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane of E. coli. The first, suppressor-directed inactivation (SDI), exploits the specific interaction between dominant prl suppressors of signal sequence mutations and mutant LacZ hybrid proteins. The second, Sec titration, extends SDI to allow the identification of various Sec proteins that are present in the translocation complex. The third uses the synthetic lethality of certain double-mutant strains to infer physical interactions between gene products. Biochemical data obtained with SDI strains allow the identification of two different secretory intermediates and indicate that PrlG functions before PrlA in the secretion pathway.
Two general approaches have been used to define genetically the genes that encode components of the cellular protein export machinery. One of these strategies identifies mutations that confer a conditional-lethal, pleiotropic export defect (sec, secretion). The other identifies dominant suppressors of signal sequence mutations (prl, protein localization). Subsequent characterization reveals that in at least three cases, prlA/secY, prlD/secA, and prlG/secE, both types of mutations are found within the same structural gene. This convergence is satisfying and provides compelling evidence for direct involvement of these gene products in the export process.
Transcription of the genes that encode the major outer membrane porin proteins OmpF and OmpC of Escherichia coli is regulated in response to changes in medium osmolarity by EnvZ and OmpR. EnvZ functions to sense environmental conditions and to relay this information to the DNA-binding protein OmpR. We have used a truncated EnvZ protein (EnvZ115), which is defective in sensory function but able to communicate with OmpR, to study the biochemical interactions between these two proteins and their effects on transcription from the ompF promoter. We show that purified EnvZ115 can phosphorylate OmpR in the presence of ATP. In addition, EnvZ115 stimulates the ability of OmpR to activate ompF transcription in vitro. Using antibodies specific for EnvZ, we have purified the wild-type protein and have shown that it is also an OmpR kinase. These results provide a prokaryotic example of a transmembrane sensory protein that functions as a protein kinase and suggest a mechanism by which EnvZ communicates with OmpR in signal transduction.
The two-component regulatory system, OmpR and EnvZ, in Escherichia coli controls the differential expression of ompF and ompC in response to medium osmolarity. Previous studies suggest that EnvZ functions as a membrane sensor relaying information to the DNA-binding protein, OmpR, which in turn activates expression of the appropriate promoter. A strategy has been devised to isolate and characterize a collection of missense mutations in ompR that alter, but do not abolish protein function. Mutants were isolated using strains that contain the ompR and envZ genes in separate chromosomal locations yet maintain the production of both regulatory proteins at physiological levels. Such an arrangement facilitates ompR diploid analysis and tests of epistasis with known envZ mutations. The data obtained indicate that OmpR works in both a positive and negative fashion to control the transcription of ompF and this result forms the basis of a model for porin regulation that explains the switch from OmpF to OmpC production in response to increasing medium osmolarity.
Analysis of more than 100 extragenic suppressors of the lamB14D signal-sequence mutation (changes Val in the hydrophobic core region at position 14 to Asp) has revealed alterations that appear to lie at prlA (secY) and secA (prlD), two loci known to be mutable to suppressor alleles, and a new suppressor termed prlG. One allele of the new suppressor class, prlG1, has been characterized in some detail. This suppressor counteracts, to some degree, the export defect conferred by a variety of signal-sequence mutations in two different genes, lamB and malE. Genetic analysis shows that the dominant suppressor mutations are linked tightly to, and probably allelic with, the gene secE. This result, coupled with data obtained with conditional-lethal alleles of secE, argues strongly that SecE is an important component of the cellular protein export machinery in Escherichia coli.
Signal transduction in the bacterial Omp, Che, and Ntr systems involves the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of response regulators (OmpR, CheY and CheB, NRI) that share a homologous domain. We show that in the Omp system, the transmembrane sensor EnvZ, catalyzes both the phosphorylation of OmpR and the dephosphorylation of OmpR-P. The phosphorylation reaction proceeds by a mechanism shared with the Ntr and Che kinases, NRII, and CheA. EnvZ can phosphorylate NRI and can stimulate transcription from the glnAp2 promoter, and similarly, CheA can phosphorylate OmpR and can stimulate transcription from the ompF promoter. OmpR-P formed by either CheA or EnvZ is much more stable than CheY-P and NRI-P, but is rapidly hydrolyzed to OmpR and Pi by EnvZ in the presence of ATP, ADP, or nonhydrolyzable analogs of ATP. Because EnvZ is normally a transmembrane receptor with a periplasmic sensory domain, our results suggest that the role of EnvZ may be to control the intracellular concentration of OmpR-P in response to environmental signals.