Legionella pneumophila, a causative agent of pneumonia, utilizes the Type 4B secretion (T4BS) system to translocate over 300 effectors into the host cell during infection. T4BS systems are encoded by a large gene cluster termed dot/icm, three components of which, DotL, DotM, and DotN, form the “coupling complex”, which serves as a platform for recruitment of effector proteins. One class of effectors includes proteins containing Glu-rich/E-block sequences at their C terminus. However, the protein or region of the coupling complex mediating recruitment of such effectors is unknown. Here we present the crystal structure of DotM. This all alpha-helical structure exhibits patches of positively charged residues. We show that these regions form binding sites for acidic Glu-rich peptides and that mutants targeting these patches are defective in vivo in the translocation of acidic Glu-rich motif-containing effectors. We conclude that DotM forms the interacting surface for recruitment of acidic Glu-rich motif-containing Legionella effectors
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