Tetratricopeptide repeats in the type III secretion chaperone, LcrH: their role in substrate binding and secretion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • PJ Edqvist
  • JE Broms
  • HJ Betts
  • A Forsberg
  • MS Francis

Colleges, School and Institutes


Non-flagellar type III secretion systems (T3SSs) transport proteins across the bacterial cell and into eukaryotic cells. Targeting of proteins into host cells requires a dedicated translocation apparatus. Efficient secretion of the translocator proteins that make up this apparatus depends on molecular chaperones. Chaperones of the translocators (also called class-II chaperones) are characterized by the possession of three tandem tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs). We wished to dissect the relations between chaperone structure and function and to validate a structural model using site-directed mutagenesis. Drawing on a number of experimental approaches and focusing on LcrH, a class-II chaperone from the Yersinia Ysc-Yop T3SS, we examined the contributions of different residues, residue classes and regions of the protein to chaperone stability, chaperone-substrate binding, substrate stability and secretion and regulation of Yop protein synthesis. We confirmed the expected role of the conserved canonical residues from the TPRs to chaperone stability and function. Eleven mutations specifically abrogated YopB binding or secretion while three mutations led to a specific loss of YopD secretion. These are the first mutations described for any class-II chaperone that allow interactions with one translocator to be dissociated from interactions with the other. Strikingly, all mutations affecting the interaction with YopB mapped to residues with side chains projecting from the inner, concave surface of the modelled TPR structure, defining a YopB interaction site. Conversely, all mutations preventing YopD secretion affect residues that lie on the outer, convex surface of the triple-TPR cluster in our model, suggesting that this region of the molecule represents a distinct interaction site for YopD. Intriguingly, one of the LcrH double mutants, Y40A/F44A, was able to maintain stable substrates inside bacteria, but unable to secrete them, suggesting that these two residues might influence delivery of substrates to the secretion apparatus.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006