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Open Access Research article

Topological characterisation and identification of critical domains within glucosyltransferase IV (GtrIV) of Shigella flexneri

Anesh Nair, Haralambos Korres and Naresh K Verma*

Author Affiliations

Division of Biomedical Science and Biochemistry, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

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BMC Biochemistry 2011, 12:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2091-12-67

Published: 22 December 2011

Abstract

Background

The three bacteriophage genes gtrA, gtrB and gtr(type) are responsible for O-antigen glucosylation in Shigella flexneri. Both gtrA and gtrB have been demonstrated to be highly conserved and interchangeable among serotypes while gtr(type) was found to be specific to each serotype, leading to the hypothesis that the Gtr(type) proteins are responsible for attaching glucosyl groups to the O-antigen in a site- and serotype- specific manner. Based on the confirmed topologies of GtrI, GtrII and GtrV, such interaction and attachment of the glucosyl groups to the O-antigen has been postulated to occur in the periplasm.

Results

In this study, the topology of GtrIV was experimentally determined by creating different fusions between GtrIV and a dual-reporter protein, PhoA/LacZ. This study shows that GtrIV consists of 8 transmembrane helices, 2 large periplasmic loops, 2 small cytoplasmic N- and C- terminal ends and a re-entrant loop that occurs between transmembrane helices III and IV. Though this topology differs from that of GtrI, GtrII, GtrV and GtrX, it is very similar to that of GtrIc. Furthermore, both the N-terminal periplasmic and the C-terminal periplasmic loops are important for GtrIV function as shown via a series of loop deletion experiments and the creation of chimeric proteins between GtrIV and its closest structural homologue, GtrIc.

Conclusion

The current study provides the basis for elucidating the structure and mechanism of action of this important O-antigen modifying glucosyltransferase.