Serratia marcescens S-layer protein is secreted extracellularly via an ATP-binding cassette exporter, the Lip system

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The Serratia marcescens Lip exporter belonging to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) exporter is known to be involved in signal peptide-independent extracellular secretion of a lipase and a metalloprotease. Although the genes of secretory proteins and their ABC exporters are usually all reported to be linked in several Gram-negative bacteria, neither the lipase nor the protease gene is located close to the Lip exporter genes, lipBCD. A gene (slaA) located upstream of the lipBCD genes was cloned, revealing that it encodes a polypeptide of 100 kDa and is partially similar to the Caulobacter crescentus paracrystalline cell surface layer (S-layer) protein. The Lip exporter-deficient mutants of S. marcescens failed to secrete the SlaA protein. Electron micrography demonstrated the cell surface layer of S. marcescens. The S-layer protein was secreted to the cultured media in Escherichia coli cells carrying the Lip exporter. Three ABC exporters, Prt, Has and Hly systems, could not allow the S-layer secretion, indicating that the S. marcescens S-layer protein is strictly recognized by the Lip system. This is the first report concerning secretion of an S-layer protein via its own secretion system.

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