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The cryptic general secretory pathway (gsp) operon of Escherichia coli K-12 encodes functional proteins.

By O Francetic and A P Pugsley


Systematic sequencing of the Escherichia coli K-12 chromosome (GenBank entry U18997) has revealed the presence of an apparently complete operon of genes (the gspC-0 operon) similar to genes coding for components of the main terminal branch of the general secretory pathway (e.g., the Klebsiella oxytoca pulC-0 pullulanase secretion operon) and to related genes required for type IV pilus biogenesis. For example, the last gene in the gsp operon, gspO (formerly hopD), encodes a protein which is similar to several type IV prepilin peptidases. Expression of gspO from lacZp promotes cleavage of two known prepilin peptidase substrates in E. coli K-12: Neisseria gonorrhoeae type IV prepilin and K. oxytoca prePulG protein. gspO also complements a mutation in the corresponding gene (pulO) of the pullulanase secretion operon when it is expressed from lacZp. Another gene in the gsp operon, gspG (formerly hopG), encodes a protein similar to prePulG, a component of the pullulanase secretion pathway. Expression of gspG from lacZp leads to production of a protein which (i) is recognized by PulG-specific antiserum (and by antiserum against the Pseudomonas aeruginosa PulG homolog XcpG [formerly XcpT]), (ii) is processed in cells expressing gspO, and (iii) restores secretion in cells carrying a pulG mutation. The chromosomal copies of gspG and gspO are apparently not expressed, probably because of very weak transcription from the upstream region, as measured by using a chromosomal gspC-lacZ operon fusion. Thus, the gsp operon of E. coli K-12 includes at least two functional genes which, together with the rest of the operon, are probably not expressed under laboratory conditions

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1996
DOI identifier: 10.1128/jb.178.12.3544-3549.1996
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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