Attacin is a 20 kDa antibacterial protein, originally isolated from the immune haemolymph of . It has been demonstrated previously that attacin causes increased permeability of the outer membrane of and inhibition of outer-membrane protein synthesis at the transcriptional level. This is accompanied by inhibition of growth. Here, LPS is shown to serve as the receptor for attacin and evidence is presented that attacin does not need to enter the cell to exert its activity. The increase in outer-membrane permeability precedes any increase in inner-membrane permeability by at least one generation time (∼ 45 min), and the inhibiting effect of attacin on synthesis of outer-membrane proteins is detectable after only 10 min. It is also shown that attacin causes induction of several stress proteins and increased synthesis of LPS within, respectively, 25 and 60 min of treatment. Based on the results presented, it is proposed that attacin has the unique ability to specifically interfere with synthesis of outer-membrane proteins without entering the inner membrane or cytoplasm.


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