PelA and PelB proteins form a modification and secretion complex essential for Pel polysaccharide-dependent biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
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The pellicle (PEL) polysaccharide is synthesized by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and is an important biofilm constituent critical for bacterial virulence and persistence. PEL is a cationic polymer that promotes cell-cell interactions within the biofilm matrix through electrostatic interactions with extracellular DNA. Translocation of PEL across the outer membrane is proposed to occur via PelB, a membrane-embedded porin with a large periplasmic domain predicted to contain 19 tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs). TPR-containing domains are typically involved in protein-protein interactions, and we therefore sought to determine whether PelB serves as a periplasmic scaffold that recruits other components of the PEL secretion apparatus. In this study, we show that the TPR domain of PelB interacts with PelA, an enzyme with PEL deacetylase and hydrolase activities. Structure determination of PelB TPRs 8-11 enabled us to design systematic deletions of individual TPRs and revealed that repeats 9-14, which are required for the cellular localization of PelA with PelB are also essential for PEL-dependent biofilm formation. Copurification experiments indicated that the interaction between PelA and PelB is direct and that the deacetylase activity of PelA increases and its hydrolase activity decreases when these proteins interact. Combined, our results indicate that the TPR-containing domain of PelB localizes PelA to the PEL secretion apparatus within the periplasm and that this may allow for efficient deacetylation of PEL before its export from the cell.
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