Typhoid toxin is a virulence factor for the bacterial pathogen Salmonella Typhi, which causes typhoid fever in humans. After its synthesis by intracellular bacteria, typhoid toxin is secreted into the lumen of the Salmonella-containing vacuole by a secretion mechanism strictly dependent on TtsA, a specific muramidase that facilitates toxin transport through the peptidoglycan layer. Here we show that substrate recognition by TtsA depends on a discrete domain within its carboxy terminus, which targets the enzyme to the bacterial poles to recognize YcbB-edited peptidoglycan. Comparison of the atomic structures of TtsA bound to its substrate and that of a close homolog with different specificity identified specific determinants involved in substrate recognition. Combined with structure-guided mutagenesis and in vitro and in vivo crosslinking experiments, this study provides an unprecedented view of the mechanisms by which a muramidase recognizes its peptidoglycan substrate to facilitate protein secretion.
- Jorge E Galán
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Michael T Laub, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
© 2020, Geiger et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Penicillin and related antibiotics disrupt cell wall synthesis in bacteria causing the downstream misactivation of cell wall hydrolases called autolysins to induce cell lysis. Despite the clinical importance of this phenomenon, little is known about the factors that control autolysins and how penicillins subvert this regulation to kill cells. In the pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae (Sp), LytA is the major autolysin responsible for penicillin-induced bacteriolysis. We recently discovered that penicillin treatment of Sp causes a dramatic shift in surface polymer biogenesis in which cell wall-anchored teichoic acids (WTAs) increase in abundance at the expense of lipid-linked teichoic acids (LTAs). Because LytA binds to both species of teichoic acids, this change recruits the enzyme to its substrate where it cleaves the cell wall and elicits lysis. In this report, we identify WhyD (SPD_0880) as a new factor that controls the level of WTAs in Sp cells to prevent LytA misactivation during exponential growth and premature lysis. We show that WhyD is a WTA hydrolase that restricts the WTA content of the wall to areas adjacent to active PG synthesis. Our results support a model in which the WTA tailoring activity of WhyD during exponential growth directs PG remodeling activity required for proper cell elongation in addition to preventing autolysis by LytA.
Overlapping coding regions balance selective forces between multiple genes. One possible division of nucleotide sequence is that the predominant selective force on a particular nucleotide can be attributed to just one gene. While this arrangement has been observed in regions in which one gene is structured and the other is disordered, we sought to explore how overlapping genes balance constraints when both protein products are structured over the same sequence. We use a combination of sequence analysis, functional assays, and selection experiments to examine an overlapped region in HIV-1 that encodes helical regions in both Env and Rev. We find that functional segregation occurs even in this overlap, with each protein spacing its functional residues in a manner that allows a mutable non-binding face of one helix to encode important functional residues on a charged face in the other helix. Additionally, our experiments reveal novel and critical functional residues in Env and have implications for the therapeutic targeting of HIV-1.