A Microdomain for Protein Secretion in Gram-Positive Bacteria

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Gram-positive bacteria face unique challenges in generating biologically active conformations for their exported proteins because they lack a dedicated compartment for folding secreted polypeptides. We have discovered that protein secretion by way of the general secretory (Sec) pathway in the important human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes proceeds through a single microdomain. Unlike other mechanisms for asymmetry involving the Sec pathway, proteins destined for secretion are targeted to a single locus distal to either cell pole that has specialized to contain the Sec translocons. This subcellular organization may represent a paradigm for secretion common to other Grampositive pathogens with profound implications for pathogenesis.

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