Grin I., Hartmann MD., Sauer G., Hernandez Alvarez B., Schütz M., Wagner S., Madlung J., Macek B., Felipe-Lopez A., Hensel M., Lupas A., Linke D. (2014) A trimeric lipoprotein assists in trimeric autotransporter biogenesis in enterobacteria. J Biol Chem 289(11):7388-98. (Pubmed)
Trimeric autotransporter adhesins (TAAs) are important virulence factors of many Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. TAAs form fibrous, adhesive structures on the bacterial cell surface. Their N-terminal extracellular domains are exported through a C-terminal membrane pore; the insertion of the pore domain into the bacterial outer membrane follows the rules of β-barrel transmembrane protein biogenesis and is dependent on the essential Bam complex. We have recently described the full fiber structure of SadA, a TAA of unknown function in Salmonella and other enterobacteria. In this work, we describe the structure and function of SadB, a small inner membrane lipoprotein. The sadB gene is located in an operon with sadA; orthologous operons are only found in enterobacteria, whereas other TAAs are not typically associated with lipoproteins. Strikingly, SadB is also a trimer, and its co-expression with SadA has a direct influence on SadA structural integrity. This is the first report of a specific export factor of a TAA, suggesting that at least in some cases TAA autotransport is assisted by additional periplasmic proteins.