pH sensitivity of type III secretion system tip proteins

Academic Article


  • Many pathogenic gram-negative bacteria employ type III secretion systems to transport proteins into the host cell membrane and cytoplasm to subvert normal cellular functions. The type III secretion apparatus consists of a basal body spanning the inner and outer bacterial membranes and a needle which extends away from the bacterium. Recent work has found that a special class of proteins localizes to the tip of the needle to control secretion of effector proteins. Five of these tip proteins are IpaD (Shigella flexneri), BipD (Burkholderia pseudomallei), SipD (Salmonella spp.), LcrV (Yersinia spp.), and PcrV (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). In this study, the conformational stability of these proteins was characterized as a function of pH and temperature. Understanding the stability of the proteins in different pH environments is particularly important since they are expected to encounter different pH environments in their passage through the gastrointestinal tract and are exposed to low pH microenvironments near the surface of target cell membranes. Secondary and tertiary structural changes were monitored using the spectroscopic techniques of far-UV circular dichroism, Trp fluorescence, ANS fluorescence, and ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy. Optical density and right angle scattering measurements were also used to evaluate protein association/dissociation. Empirical phase diagrams were then applied to mathematically combine data from the various spectroscopic techniques to provide a global picture of the proteins' structural behavior in solution. The responses of the proteins to changes in temperature and pH conditions reveal two distinct subfamilies in terms of stability. The first is that of IpaD, BipD, and SipD whose corresponding phase diagrams show conformational differences at pH 5-6. The conserved pH dependence in this subfamily suggests possible common mechanistic function. In the second subfamily (LcrV and PcrV), conformational stability is directly related to pH, also indicating mechanistic similarities. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Markham AP; Birket SE; Picking WD; Picking WL; Middaugh CR
  • Start Page

  • 1830
  • End Page

  • 1842
  • Volume

  • 71
  • Issue

  • 4