Identification of a substrate domain that determines system specificity in mycobacterial type VII secretion systems

Trang H Phan, Roy Ummels, Wilbert Bitter, Edith N G Houben

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Type VII secretion (T7S) systems are specialized machineries used by mycobacterial pathogens to transport important virulence factors across their highly hydrophobic cell envelope. There are up to five mycobacterial T7S systems, named ESX-1 to ESX-5, at least three of which specifically secrete a different subset of substrates. The T7S substrates or substrate complexes are defined by the general secretion motif YxxxD/E. However this motif does not determine system specificity. Here, we show that the substrate domain recognized by the EspG chaperone is the determinant factor for this specificity. We first show that the introduction of point mutations into the EspG1-binding domain of the ESX-1 substrate pair PE35/PPE68_1 affects their secretion. Subsequently, we demonstrate that replacing this domain by the EspG5-binding domain of the ESX-5 substrate PPE18 resulted in EspG5 dependence and exclusive rerouting to the ESX-5 system. This rerouting of PE35/PPE68_1 to the ESX-5 system had a negative effect on the secretion of endogenous ESX-5 substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42704
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2017

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