Proteins Related to the Type I Secretion System Are Associated with Secondary SecA_DEAD Domain Proteins in Some Species of Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Proteobacteria, Nitrospirae and Chlorobi

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 1;10(6):e0129066. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129066. eCollection 2015.


A number of bacteria belonging to the PVC (Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae) super-phylum contain unusual ribosome-bearing intracellular membranes. The evolutionary origins and functions of these membranes are unknown. Some proteins putatively associated with the presence of intracellular membranes in PVC bacteria contain signal peptides. Signal peptides mark proteins for translocation across the cytoplasmic membrane in prokaryotes, and the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotes, by highly conserved Sec machinery. This suggests that proteins might be targeted to intracellular membranes in PVC bacteria via the Sec pathway. Here, we show that canonical signal peptides are significantly over-represented in proteins preferentially present in PVC bacteria possessing intracellular membranes, indicating involvement of Sec translocase in their cellular targeting. We also characterized Sec proteins using comparative genomics approaches, focusing on the PVC super-phylum. While we were unable to detect unique changes in Sec proteins conserved among membrane-bearing PVC species, we identified (1) SecA ATPase domain re-arrangements in some Planctomycetes, and (2) secondary SecA_DEAD domain proteins in the genomes of some Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Proteobacteria, Nitrospirae and Chlorobi. This is the first report of potentially duplicated SecA in Gram-negative bacteria. The phylogenetic distribution of secondary SecA_DEAD domain proteins suggests that the presence of these proteins is not related to the occurrence of PVC endomembranes. Further genomic analysis showed that secondary SecA_DEAD domain proteins are located within genomic neighborhoods that also encode three proteins possessing domains specific for the Type I secretion system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chlorobi / genetics
  • Chlorobi / growth & development
  • Chlorobi / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Planctomycetales / genetics
  • Planctomycetales / growth & development
  • Planctomycetales / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteobacteria / genetics
  • Proteobacteria / growth & development
  • Proteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Type I Secretion Systems / genetics
  • Type I Secretion Systems / metabolism*
  • Verrucomicrobia / genetics
  • Verrucomicrobia / growth & development
  • Verrucomicrobia / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Type I Secretion Systems