Mycobacteria use type VII secretion systems to secrete proteins across their highly hydrophobic diderm cell envelope. Pathogenic mycobacteria, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium marinum, have up to five of these systems, named ESX-1 to ESX-5. Most of these systems contain a set of five conserved membrane components, of which the four Ecc proteins form the core membrane-embedded secretion complex. The fifth conserved membrane protein, mycosin protease (MycP), is not part of the core complex but is essential for secretion, as it stabilizes this membrane complex. Here we investigated which MycP domains are required for this stabilization by producing hybrid constructs between MycP 1 and MycP 5 in M. marinum and analyzed their effect on ESX-1 and ESX-5 secretion. We found that both the protease and transmembrane domain are required for the ESX system-specific function of mycosins. In addition, we observed that the transmembrane domain strongly affects MycP protein levels. We also show that the extended loops 1 and 2 in the protease domain are probably primarily involved in MycP stability, whereas loop 3 and the MycP 5 -specific loop 5 are dispensable. The atypical propeptide, or N-terminal extension, is required only for MycP stability. Finally, we show that the protease domain of MycP P1 , encoded by the esx-P1 locus on the pRAW plasmid, is functionally redundant to the protease domain of MycP 5 . These results provide the first insight into the regions of mycosins involved in interaction with and stabilization of their respective ESX complexes.
van Winden, V. J. C., Damen, M. P. M., Ummels, R., Bitter, W., & Houben, E. N. G. (2019). Protease domain and transmembrane domain of the type VII secretion mycosin protease determine system-specific functioning in mycobacteria. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 294(13), 4806-4814. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA118.007090