Outer membrane protein (OMP) biogenesis in Escherichia coli is a robust process essential to the life of the organism. It is catalyzed by the β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) complex, and a number of quality control factors, including periplasmic chaperones and proteases, maintain the integrity of this trafficking pathway. Little is known, however, about how periplasmic proteases recognize and degrade OMP substrates when assembly is compromised or whether different proteases recognize the same substrate at distinct points in the assembly pathway. In this work, we use well-defined assembly-defective mutants of LptD, the essential lipopolysaccharide assembly translocon, to show that the periplasmic protease DegP degrades substrates with assembly defects that prevent or impair initial contact with Bam, causing the mutant protein to accumulate in the periplasm. In contrast, another periplasmic protease, BepA, degrades a LptD mutant substrate that has engaged the Bam complex and formed a nearly complete barrel. Furthermore, we describe the role of the outer membrane lipoprotein YcaL, a protease of heretofore unknown function, in the degradation of a LptD substrate that has engaged the Bam complex but is stalled at an earlier step in the assembly process that is not accessible to BepA. Our results demonstrate that multiple periplasmic proteases monitor OMPs at distinct points in the assembly process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Assembly intermediates
- Outer membrane
- β-barrel proteins