The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) transport (Lpt) system is responsible for transferring LPS from the periplasmic surface of the inner membrane (IM) to the outer leaflet of the outer membrane (OM), where it plays a crucial role in OM selective permeability. In E. coli seven essential proteins are assembled in an Lpt trans-envelope complex, which is conserved in gamma-Proteobacteria. LptBFG constitute the IMABC transporter, LptDE form the OM translocon for final LPS delivery, whereas LptC, an IM-anchored protein with a periplasmic domain, interacts with the IM ABC transporter, the periplasmic protein LptA, and LPS. Although essential, LptC can tolerate several mutations and its role in LPS transport is unclear. To get insights into the functional role of LptC in the Lpt machine we searched for viable mutants lacking LptC by applying a strong double selection for lptC deletion mutants. Genome sequencing of viable Delta lptC mutants revealed single amino acid substitutions at a unique position in the predicted large periplasmic domain of the IM component LptF (LptF(SupC)). In complementation tests, lptF(SupC) mutants suppress lethality of both Delta lptC and lptC conditional expressionmutants. Our data show that mutations in a specific residue of the predicted LptF periplasmic domain can compensate the lack of the essential protein LptC, implicate such LptF domain in the formation of the periplasmic bridge between the IM and OM complexes, and suggest that LptC may have evolved to improve the performance of an ancestral six-component Lpt machine.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by Fondazione per la Ricerca sulla Fibrosi Cistica (http://www.fibrosicisticaricerca.it/) (grant FFC#13/2010 to AP) and by Regione Lombardia-MIUR (http://www.regione.lombardia.it; http://www.istruzione.it), project ID 30190679 (to GD). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.