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Type: Journal article
Title: IcsA autotransporter passenger promotes increased fusion protein expression on the cell surface
Author: Lum, M.
Morona, R.
Citation: Microbial Cell Factories, 2012; 11(1):1-10
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 1475-2859
Statement of
Mabel Lum and Renato Morona
Abstract: Background: Autotransporters are attractive cell surface display vehicles as they lack complex adaptor proteins necessary for protein export. Recent reports have suggested that the native effector domain (α domain) and translocation domain (β domain) interact with each other to drive translocation of the effector domain to the outer membrane. In this report we compared the expression, surface localisation and folding of TEM-1 β-lactamase (Bla) and maltose binding protein (MalE or MBP) fused to either full length Shigella flexneri IcsA (IcsA) autotransporter or to the β domain alone (IcsAβ) to determine the contribution of the native IcsA α domain in presenting the fusion proteins on the surface of E. coli K-12 UT5600 (ΔompT). Results: Expression of IcsA-Bla was greater than IcsAβ-Bla. High levels of IcsA-MalE were detected but IcsAβ-MalE was not expressed. All fusion proteins other than IcsAβ-MalE were localised to the outer membrane and were detected on the surface of UT5600 via immunofluorescence microscopy. All bacteria expressing IcsA-MalE were labelled with both α-IcsA and α-MBP. UT5600 expressing IcsAβ-MalE was not labelled with α-MBP. A third of UT5600 expressing IcsA-Bla were detectable with α-Bla but only 5% of UT5600 (IcsAβ-Bla) were labelled with α-Bla. The correct folding of the Bla moiety when fused to IcsA and IcsAβ was also retained as UT5600 expressing either fusion protein exhibited a decreased zone of inhibition in the presence of ampicillin. UT5600 expressing IcsA-Bla was more resistant compared to UT5600 expressing IcsAβ-Bla. Conclusions: The export mechanism of autotransporters is not well understood but accumulating evidence suggest a critical role for the native effector or α domain in facilitating its own export via interactions with the translocation or β domain. This is the first report directly comparing expression of heterologous proteins fused to the full length IcsA autotransporter and fusion to the β domain alone. Protein expression and surface presentation of the fusion proteins were dramatically improved when fused to IcsA rather than IcsAβ. Future studies involved in designing autotransporters as cell surface display vehicles would benefit from including the native α domain. This work also provides further evidence for a key interaction between the autotransporter α and β domains.
Keywords: Cell Membrane; Escherichia coli; Shigella flexneri; Ampicillin; beta-Lactamases; Bacterial Proteins; DNA-Binding Proteins; Recombinant Fusion Proteins; Transcription Factors; Anti-Bacterial Agents; Microscopy, Fluorescence; Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial; Genetic Vectors; Maltose-Binding Proteins
Rights: © 2012 Lum and Morona; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
RMID: 0020117970
DOI: 10.1186/1475-2859-11-20
Appears in Collections:Microbiology and Immunology publications

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