Role of EscF, a putative needle complex protein, in the type III protein translocation system of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli

Cell Microbiol. 2001 Nov;3(11):753-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2001.00159.x.


Type III secretion systems, designed to deliver effector proteins across the bacterial cell envelope and the plasma membrane of the target eukaryotic cell, are involved in subversion of eukaryotic cell functions in a variety of human, animal and plant pathogens. In enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), several protein substrates for the secretion apparatus were identified, including EspA, EspB and EspD. EspA is a structural protein and the major component of a large transiently expressed filamentous surface organelle that forms a direct link between the bacterium and the host cell, whereas EspD and EspB seem to form the mature translocation pore. Recent studies of the type III secretion systems of Shigella and Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI)-1 revealed the existence of a macromolecular complex that spans both bacterial membranes and consists of a basal structure with two upper and two lower rings and a needle-like projection that extends outwards from the bacterial surface. MxiH (Shigella) and PrgI (Salmonella) are the main components of the needle of the type III secretion complex. A needle-like complex has not yet been reported in EPEC. In this study, we investigated EscF, a protein sharing sequence similarity with MxiH and PrgI. We report that EscF is required for type III protein secretion and EspA filament assembly. Moreover, we show that EscF binds EspA, suggesting that EspA filaments are an extension of the type III secretion needle complexes in EPEC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins*
  • Erythrocytes / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mutation
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • EscF protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins