The terminal reactions in the synthesis of the siderophore enterobactin (Ent) by require the EntD, E, F and B/G polypeptides. The idea that these molecules form a complex (Ent synthase) that is membrane-associated was re-evaluated. results provided no evidence in support of the proposal: (i) Ent synthase activity occurred normally under conditions where membrane was either absent or disrupted by high concentrations of neutral detergents, and (ii) immunoprecipitation experiments conducted on extracts engaged in Ent synthesis failed to detect any association among the Ent polypeptides. However, Western blot analyses showed that EntE, F and B/G were released from cells by osmotic shock and freeze/thaw treatment but not by conversion of cells to spheroplasts. These results demonstrated that EntE, F and B/G belong to the Beacham group D class of proteins. The shockability of a given group D Ent protein was unaffected by the absence of either EntB/G or EntD and, for EntB/G, the N-terminus was sufficient for release by osmotic shock. The behaviour of group D proteins is generally attributed to their association (partial, loose or transient) with cytoplasmic membrane; therefore, the results are indirect evidence that Ent synthase interacts with membrane At the very least, the data indicate that EntE, F and B/G are compartmentalized in and, because other biosynthetic enzymes for siderophores and surfactants are related to these Ent proteins, suggest that this entire protein class may be sequestered


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