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Open Access Open Badges Research article

PpiD is a player in the network of periplasmic chaperones in Escherichia coli

Yvonne Matern12, Birgitta Barion1 and Susanne Behrens-Kneip12*

Author Affiliations

1 Abteilung Molekulare Genetik und Präparative Molekularbiologie, Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Grisebachstr. 8, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

2 Robert Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20, D-13353 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:251  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-251

Published: 29 September 2010



The inner membrane-anchored periplasmic folding factor PpiD is described as a parvulin-like peptidyl prolyl isomerase (PPIase) that assists in the maturation of the major beta-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Escherichia coli. More recent work however, calls these findings into question. Here, we re-examined the role of PpiD in the E. coli periplasm by analyzing its functional interplay with other folding factors that influence OMP maturation as well as general protein folding in the periplasmic compartment of the cell, such as SurA, Skp, and DegP.


The analysis of the effects of both deletion and overexpression of ppiD on cell envelope phenotypes revealed that PpiD in contrast to prior observations plays only a minor role, if any, in the maturation of OMPs and cannot compensate for the lack of SurA in the periplasm. On the other hand, our results show that overproduction of PpiD rescues a surA skp double mutant from lethality. In the presence of increased PpiD levels surA skp cells show reduced activities of both the SigmaE-dependent and the Cpx envelope stress responses, and contain increased amounts of folded species of the major OMP OmpA. These effects require the anchoring of PpiD in the inner membrane but are independent of its parvulin-like PPIase domain. Moreover, a PpiD protein lacking the PPIase domain also complements the growth defects of an fkpA ppiD surA triple PPIase mutant and exhibits chaperone activity in vitro. In addition, PpiD appears to collaborate with DegP, as deletion of ppiD confers a temperature-dependent conditional synthetic phenotype in a degP mutant.


This study provides first direct evidence that PpiD functions as a chaperone and contributes to the network of periplasmic chaperone activities without being specifically involved in OMP maturation. Consistent with previous work, our data support a model in which the chaperone function of PpiD is used to aid in the early periplasmic folding of many newly translocated proteins.