Synthetic effect between envelope stress and lack of outer membrane vesicle production in Escherichia coli.
Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are composed of outer membrane and periplasmic components and are ubiquitously secreted by Gram-negative bacteria. OMVs can disseminate virulence factors for pathogenic bacteria as well as serve as an envelope stress response. From a transposon mutant screen for OMV phenotypes, it was discovered that an nlpA mutant of Escherichia coli produces fewer OMVs than the wild type, whereas a degP mutant produces higher levels of OMVs. NlpA is an inner-membrane-anchored lipoprotein that has a minor role in methionine import. DegP is a periplasmic chaperone/protease for misfolded envelope proteins that is critical when cells are heat shocked. To reveal how these proteins contribute to OMV production, the mutations were combined and the double mutant analyzed. The ΔnlpA ΔdegP strain displayed a high-temperature growth defect that corresponded to the production of fewer OMVs than produced by the ΔdegP strain. This phenotype also pertained to other undervesiculation mutations in a ΔdegP background. The hypovesiculation phenotype of ΔnlpA in the wild-type strain as well as in the degP deletion strain was found to be a stationary-phase phenomenon. The periplasm of the ΔnlpA ΔdegP strain was determined to contain significantly more protein in stationary phase than the wild type. Additionally, misfolded DegP substrate outer membrane porins were detected in ΔdegP mutant-derived OMVs. These data suggest that an accumulation of envelope proteins resulting from decreased vesiculation was toxic and contributed to the growth defect. We conclude that OMV production contributes to relieve the envelope of accumulated toxic proteins and that NlpA plays an important role in the production of vesicles in stationary phase.
Schwechheimer, C; Kuehn, MJ
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