Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Non-typable Haemophilus influenzae is a common cause of human disease and initiates infection by colonizing the upper respiratory tract. The non-typable H. influenzae HMW1 and HMW2 adhesins mediate attachment to human epithelial cells, an essential step in the process of colonization. HMW1 and HMW2 have an unusual N-terminus and undergo cleavage of a 441-amino-acid N-terminal fragment during the course of their maturation. Following translocation across the outer membrane, they remain loosely associated with the bacterial surface, except for a small amount that is released extracellularly. In the present study, we localized the signal sequence to the first 68 amino acids, which are characterized by a highly charged region from amino acids 1–48, followed by a more typical signal peptide with a predicted leader peptidase cleavage site after the amino acid at position 68. Additional experiments established that the SecA ATPase and the SecE translocase are essential for normal export and demonstrated that maturation involves cleavage first between residues 68 and 69, via leader peptidase, and next between residues 441 and 442. Site-directed mutagenesis revealed that HMW1 processing, secretion and extracellular release are dependent on amino acids in the region between residues 150 and 166 and suggested that this region interacts with the HMW1B outer membrane translocator. Deletion of the C-terminal end of HMW1 resulted in augmented extracellular release and elimination of HMW1-mediated adherence, arguing that the C-terminus may serve to tether the adhesin to the bacterial surface. These observations suggest that the HMW proteins are secreted by a variant form of the general secretory pathway and provide insight into the mechanisms of secretion of a growing family of Gram-negative bacterial exoproteins.
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