[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Type IV secretion (T4S) systems are able to transport DNAs and/or proteins through the membranes of bacteria. They form large multiprotein complexes consisting of 12 proteins termed VirB1-11 and VirD4. VirB7, 9 and 10 assemble into a 1.07 MegaDalton membrane-spanning core complex (CC), around which all other components assemble. This complex is made of two parts, the O-layer inserted in the outer membrane and the I-layer inserted in the inner membrane. While the structure of the O-layer has been solved by X-ray crystallography, there is no detailed structural information on the I-layer. Using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy and molecular modelling combined with biochemical approaches, we determined the I-layer structure and located its various components in the electron density. Our results provide new structural insights on the CC, from which the essential features of T4S system mechanisms can be derived.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gram-negative bacteria have evolved diverse secretion systems/machineries to translocate substrates across the cell envelope. These various machineries fulfil a wide variety of functions but are also essential for pathogenic bacteria to infect human or plant cells. Secretion systems, of which there are seven, utilize one of two secretion mechanisms: (i) the one-step mechanism, whereby substrates are translocated directly from the bacterial-cytoplasm to the extracellular medium or into the eukaryotic-target cell; (ii) the two-step mechanism, whereby substrates are first translocated across the bacterial-inner membrane; once in the periplasm, substrates are targeted to one of the secretion systems that mediate the transport across the outer membrane and the release outside the bacterial cell. This review describes in details the main structural features of these secretion systems. Structural biology offers the possibility to understand the molecular mechanisms at play in the various secretion systems. It also helps to design specifically drugs that can block these machineries and thus attenuate the virulence of pathogenic bacteria.
Infectious disorders drug targets. 11/2009; 9(5):518-47.