Linking the Salmonella enterica 1,2-Propanediol Utilization Bacterial Microcompartment Shell to the Enzymatic Core via the Shell Protein PduB

J Bacteriol. 2022 Sep 20;204(9):e0057621. doi: 10.1128/jb.00576-21. Epub 2022 May 16.


Bacterial microcompartments (MCPs) are protein-based organelles that house the enzymatic machinery for metabolism of niche carbon sources, allowing enteric pathogens to outcompete native microbiota during host colonization. While much progress has been made toward understanding MCP biogenesis, questions still remain regarding the mechanism by which core MCP enzymes are enveloped within the MCP protein shell. Here, we explore the hypothesis that the shell protein PduB is responsible for linking the shell of the 1,2-propanediol utilization (Pdu) MCP from Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2 to its enzymatic core. Using fluorescent reporters, we demonstrate that all members of the Pdu enzymatic core are encapsulated in Pdu MCPs. We also demonstrate that PduB is critical for linking the entire Pdu enzyme core to the MCP shell. Using MCP purifications, transmission electron microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy, we find that shell assembly can be decoupled from the enzymatic core, as apparently empty MCPs are formed in Salmonella strains lacking PduB. Mutagenesis studies reveal that PduB is incorporated into the Pdu MCP shell via a conserved, lysine-mediated hydrogen bonding mechanism. Finally, growth assays and system-level pathway modeling reveal that unencapsulated pathway performance is strongly impacted by enzyme concentration, highlighting the importance of minimizing polar effects when conducting these functional assays. Together, these results provide insight into the mechanism of enzyme encapsulation within Pdu MCPs and demonstrate that the process of enzyme encapsulation and shell assembly are separate processes in this system, a finding that will aid future efforts to understand MCP biogenesis. IMPORTANCE MCPs are unique, genetically encoded organelles used by many bacteria to survive in resource-limited environments. There is significant interest in understanding the biogenesis and function of these organelles, both as potential antibiotic targets in enteric pathogens and also as useful tools for overcoming metabolic engineering bottlenecks. However, the mechanism by which these organelles are formed natively is still not completely understood. Here, we provide evidence of a potential mechanism in S. enterica by which a single protein, PduB, links the MCP shell and metabolic core. This finding is critical for those seeking to disrupt MCPs during pathogenic infections or for those seeking to harness MCPs as nanobioreactors in industrial settings.

Keywords: 1; 2-propanediol utilization; Salmonella; bacterial microcompartment; enteric pathogens; metabolosome; organelle assembly; polar effect; shell protein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Propylene Glycol / metabolism
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Salmonella enterica* / genetics
  • Salmonella enterica* / metabolism
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Propylene Glycols
  • 1,3-propanediol
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Carbon
  • Lysine