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Abstract

Bacterial microcompartments (MCPs) are widespread protein-based organelles that play important roles in the global carbon cycle and in the physiology of diverse bacteria, including a number of pathogens. MCPs consist of metabolic enzymes encapsulated within a protein shell. The main roles of MCPs are to concentrate enzymes together with their substrates (to increase reaction rates) and to sequester harmful metabolic intermediates. Prior studies indicate that MCPs have a selectively permeable protein shell, but the mechanisms that allow selective transport across the shell are not fully understood. Here we examine transport across the shell of the choline utilization (Cut) MCP of 536, which has not been studied before. The shell of the Cut MCP is unusual in consisting of one pentameric and four hexameric bacterial microcompartment (BMC) domain proteins. It lacks trimeric shell proteins, which are thought to be required for the transport of larger substrates and enzymatic cofactors. In addition, its four hexameric BMC domain proteins are very similar in amino acid sequence. This raises questions about how the Cut MCP mediates the selective transport of the substrate, products and cofactors of choline metabolism. In this report, site-directed mutagenesis is used to modify the central pores (the main transport channels) of all four Cut BMC hexamers to assess their transport roles. Our findings indicate that a single shell protein, CmcB, plays the major role in choline transport across the shell of the Cut MCP and that the electrostatic properties of the CmcB pore also impact choline transport. The implications of these findings with regard to the higher-order structure of MCPs are discussed.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Award AI081146)
    • Principle Award Recipient: ThomasA Bobik
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2023-11-16
2024-07-25
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