Translation Stress Positively Regulates MscL-Dependent Excretion of Cytoplasmic Proteins
Protein translocation is an essential feature of cellular organisms. Bacteria, like all single-cell organisms, interact with their environment by translocation of proteins across their cell membranes via dedicated secretion pathways. Proteins destined for secretion are directed toward the secretion pathways by the presence of specific signal peptides. This study demonstrates that under conditions of both osmotic stress and translation stress, E. coli cells undergo an excretion phenomenon whereby signal peptide-less proteins are translocated across both the inner and outer cell membranes into the extracellular environment. Confirming the presence of alternative translocation/excretion pathways and understanding their function and regulation are thus important for fundamental microbiology and biotechnology.
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The apparent mislocalization or excretion of cytoplasmic proteins is a commonly observed phenomenon in both bacteria and eukaryotes. However, reports on the mechanistic basis and the cellular function of this so-called “nonclassical protein secretion” are limited. Here we report that protein overexpression in recombinant cells and antibiotic-induced translation stress in wild-type Escherichia coli cells both lead to excretion of cytoplasmic protein (ECP). Condition-specific metabolomic and proteomic analyses, combined with genetic knockouts, indicate a role for both the large mechanosensitive channel (MscL) and the alternative ribosome rescue factor A (ArfA) in ECP. Collectively, the findings indicate that MscL-dependent protein excretion is positively regulated in response to both osmotic stress and arfA-mediated translational stress.
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