LapB (YciM) orchestrates protein-protein interactions at the interface of lipopolysaccharide and phospholipid biosynthesis

Mol Microbiol. 2023 Jan;119(1):29-43. doi: 10.1111/mmi.15005. Epub 2022 Dec 4.


The outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria functions as an essential barrier and is characterized by an asymmetric bilayer with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in the outer leaflet. The enzyme LpxC catalyzes the first committed step in LPS biosynthesis. It plays a critical role in maintaining the balance between LPS and phospholipids (PL), which are both derived from the same biosynthetic precursor. The essential inner membrane proteins YejM (PbgA, LapC), LapB (YciM), and the protease FtsH are known to account for optimal LpxC levels, but the mechanistic details are poorly understood. LapB is thought to be a bi-functional protein serving as an adaptor for FtsH-mediated turnover of LpxC and acting as a scaffold in the coordination of LPS biosynthesis. Here, we provide experimental evidence for the physical interaction of LapB with proteins at the biosynthetic node from where the LPS and PL biosynthesis pathways diverge. By a total of four in vivo and in vitro assays, we demonstrate protein-protein interactions between LapB and the LPS biosynthesis enzymes LpxA, LpxC, and LpxD, between LapB and YejM, the anti-adaptor protein regulating LapB activity, and between LapB and FabZ, the first PL biosynthesis enzyme. Moreover, we uncovered a new adaptor function of LapB in destabilizing not only LpxC but also LpxD. Overall, our study shows that LapB is a multi-functional protein that serves as a protein-protein interaction hub for key enzymes in LPS and PL biogenesis presumably by virtue of multiple tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) motifs in its cytoplasmic C-terminal region.

Keywords: Gram-negative bacteria; lipopolysaccharide; outer membrane; phospholipid; protein-protein interaction; proteolysis; tetratricopeptide motif.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amidohydrolases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins* / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides* / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phospholipids
  • Amidohydrolases
  • YejM protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • YciM protein, E coli