Protein secretion by Gram-negative bacterial ABC exporters--a review

Gene. 1997 Jun 11;192(1):7-11. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(96)00829-3.


One of the strategies used by Gram-negative bacteria to secrete proteins across the two membranes which delimit the cells is sec-independent and dedicated to proteins lacking an N-terminal signal peptide. Most of these proteins display a C-terminal secretion signal located in the last 60 amino acids (aa). Using one Erwinia chrysanthemi protease, PrtG, secreted by such a pathway it was shown that the smallest C-terminal sequence allowing efficient secretion contains the last 29 aa of PrtG and that low but significant secretion can be promoted by the last 15 aa of PrtG. Moreover, the extreme C-terminal motif, consisting of a negatively charged aa followed by several hydrophobic aa must be exposed and is conserved amongst many proteins following this pathway. This secretion system depends on ABC protein-mediated exporters, which consist of three cell envelope proteins: two inner membrane proteins, an ATPase (the ABC protein), a membrane fusion protein (MFP) and an outer membrane polypeptide. These Gram-negative bacterial protein exporters are dedicated to the secretion of one or several closely related proteins belonging to the toxin, protease and lipase families. The genes encoding the three secretion proteins and the exoproteins are usually all linked, consistent with the specificity of the systems. Er. chrysanthemi metalloproteases B and C and Serratia marcescens hemoprotein HasA are secreted by such homologous pathways and interact with the ABC protein. Interaction between the ABC protein and its substrate has also been evidenced by studies on protease and HasA hybrid transporters obtained by combining components from each system. Association between hemoprotein HasA and the three exporter secretion proteins was demonstrated by affinity chromatography on hemin agarose on which the substrate remained bound with the three secretion proteins. The three components' association was ordered and substrate binding was required for the formation of this multiprotein complex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism
  • Pectobacterium chrysanthemi / chemistry
  • Pectobacterium chrysanthemi / metabolism
  • Protein Sorting Signals / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Serratia marcescens / chemistry
  • Serratia marcescens / metabolism


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • HasA protein, Serratia marcescens
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • PrtG metalloprotease