A new twist on an old pathway--accessory Sec [corrected] systems

Mol Microbiol. 2008 Jul;69(2):291-302. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06294.x.


The export of proteins from their site of synthesis in the cytoplasm across the inner membrane is an important aspect of bacterial physiology. Because the location of extracytoplasmic proteins is ideal for host-pathogen interactions, protein export is also important to bacterial virulence. In bacteria, there are conserved protein export systems that are responsible for the majority of protein export: the general secretion (Sec) pathway and the twin-arginine translocation pathway. In some bacteria, there are also specialized export systems dedicated to exporting specific subsets of proteins. In this review, we discuss a specialized export system that exists in some Gram-positive bacteria and mycobacteria - the accessory Sec system. The common element to the accessory Sec system is an accessory SecA protein called SecA2. Here we present our current understanding of accessory Sec systems in Streptococcus gordonii, Streptococcus parasanguinis, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Listeria monocytogenes, making an effort to highlight apparent similarities and differences between the systems. We also review the data showing that accessory Sec systems can contribute to bacterial virulence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Listeria / genetics
  • Listeria / physiology*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mycobacterium / genetics
  • Mycobacterium / physiology*
  • Protein Transport
  • Streptococcus / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins