Microcin e492 amyloid formation is retarded by posttranslational modification

J Bacteriol. 2013 Sep;195(17):3995-4004. doi: 10.1128/JB.00564-13. Epub 2013 Jul 8.


Microcin E492, a channel-forming bacteriocin with the ability to form amyloid fibers, is exported as a mixture of two forms: unmodified (inactive) and posttranslationally modified at the C terminus with a salmochelin-like molecule, which is an essential modification for conferring antibacterial activity. During the stationary phase, the unmodified form accumulates because expression of the maturation genes mceIJ is turned off, and microcin E492 is rapidly inactivated. The aim of this work was to demonstrate that the increase in the proportion of unmodified microcin E492 augments the ability of this bacteriocin to form amyloid fibers, which in turn decreases antibacterial activity. To this end, strains with altered proportions of the two forms were constructed. The increase in the expression of the maturation genes augmented the antibacterial activity during all growth phases and delayed the loss of activity in the stationary phase, while the ability to form amyloid fibers was markedly reduced. Conversely, a higher expression of microcin E492 protein produced concomitant decreases in the levels of the modified form and in antibacterial activity and a substantial increase in the ability to form amyloid fibers. The same morphology for these fibers, including those formed by only the unmodified version, was observed. Moreover, seeds formed using exclusively the nonmodified form were remarkably more efficient in amyloid formation with a shorter lag phase, indicating that the nucleation process is probably improved. Unmodified microcin E492 incorporation into amyloid fibers was kinetically more efficient than the modified form, probably due to the existence of a conformation that favors this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / chemistry
  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism
  • Bacteriocins / chemistry
  • Bacteriocins / metabolism*
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Kinetics
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Amyloid
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacteriocins
  • microcin