Helsingin yliopisto

 

Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The Pseudomonas syringae-derived HrpA pilins - molecular characterization and biotechnological application of the transcripts

Elina Hienonen

Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Many Gram-negative bacteria pathogenic to plants and animals possess type III secretion systems that are used to cause disease. Effector proteins are injected into host cells using the type III secretion machineries. Despite vigorous studies, the nature of the secretion signal for type III secreted proteins still remains elusive. Both mRNA and proteinaceous signals have been proposed. Findings on coupling of translation to secretion by the type III secretion systems are also still contradictory.

This study dealt with the secretion signal of HrpA from Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tomato. HrpA is the major component of the type III secretion system-associated Hrp pilus and a substrate for the type III secretion systems. The secretion signal was shown to reside in the first 15 codons or amino acids, a location typical for type III secretion signals. Translation of HrpA in the absence of a functional type III secretion system was established, but it does not exclude the possibility of coupling of translation to secretion when the secretion apparatus is present.

The hrpA transcripts from various unrelated plant pathogenic bacteria were shown to be extremely stable. The biological relevance of this observation is unknown, but possible explanations include the high prevalence of HrpA protein, an mRNA secretion signal or timing of secretion. The hrpA mRNAs are stable over a wide range of temperatures, in the absence of translating ribosomes and even in the heterologous host Escherichia coli. The untranslated regions (UTRs) of hrpA transcripts from at least 20 pathovars of Pseudomonas syringae are highly homologous, whilst their coding regions exhibit low similarity. The stable nature of hrpA messenger RNAs is likely to be due to the folding of their 5' and 3' UTRs. In silico the UTRs seem to form stem-loop structures, the hairpin structures in the 3' UTRs being rich in guanidine and cytosine residues.

The stable nature of the hrpA transcript redirected the studies to the stabilization of heterologous transcripts and to the use of stable messenger RNAs in recombinant protein production. Fragments of the hrpA transcript can be used to confer stability on heterologous transcripts from several sources of bacterial and eukaryotic origin, and to elevate the levels of production of the corresponding recombinant proteins several folds. hrpA transcript stabilizing elements can be used for improving the yields of recombinant proteins even in Escherichia coli, one of the most commonly used industrial protein production hosts.

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Last updated 28.09.2006

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