The Vps/VacJ ABC Transporter Is Required for Intercellular Spread of Shigella flexneri
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The Vps/VacJ ABC transporter system is proposed to function in maintaining the lipid asymmetry of the outer membrane. Mutations in vps or vacJ in Shigella flexneri resulted in increased sensitivity to lysis by the detergent sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and the vpsC mutant showed minor differences in its phospholipid profile compared to the wild type. vpsC mutants were unable to form plaques in cultured epithelial cells, but this was not due to a failure to invade, to replicate intracellularly, or to polymerize actin via IcsA for movement within epithelial cells. The addition of the outer membrane phospholipase gene pldA on a multicopy plasmid in a vpsC or vacJ mutant restored its resistance to SDS, suggesting a restoration of lipid asymmetry to the outer membrane. However, the pldA plasmid did not restore the mutant’s ability to form plaques in tissue culture cells. Increased PldA levels also failed to restore the mutant’s phospholipid profile to that of the wild type. We propose a dual function of the Vps/VacJ ABC transporter system in S. flexneri in both the maintenance of lipid asymmetry in the outer membrane and the intercellular spread of the bacteria between adjacent epithelial cells.
a. Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA b. Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA c. Department of Physics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA