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Title: Structural studies of the inner membrane ring of the bacterial type III secretion system
Author: McDowell, Melanie A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2744 3338
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Shigella flexneri attacks cells of the intestinal tract, causing over 1 million deaths annually from bacterial dysentery. A type III secretion system (T3SS) initiates the host-pathogen interaction and transports virulence factors directly into host cells via a needle complex (NC) comprising an extracellular needle and membrane-spanning basal body. Rings formed by the single-pass membrane proteins MxiG and MxiJ are arranged concentrically within the inner membrane ring (IMR) of the NC. The Neterminal domain of MxiG (MxiG-N) is the predominant IMR cytoplasmic structure, however it was structurally and functionally uncharacterised. Determination of the solution structure of MxiG-N in this study revealed it to be a forkhead associated (FHA) domain, although subsequent analyses of conserved residues suggested it does not have the canonical role in cell-signalling via phospho-threonine recognition. Subsequent positioning of the structure in the electron microscopy (EM) density for the S. flexneri NC supported models with 24-fold symmetry in the IMR. Both MxiG and MxiJ also have significant periplasmic domains, which were purified to homogeneity in this study, facilitating preliminary characterisation of their structures and intermolecular interactions. In addition, the entire IMR within the context of intact basal bodies was isolated and visualised in vitro by EM. The essential function of MxiG-N could be to localise the putative cytoplasmic ring (Cering) at the base of the T3SS. Although absolutely required for secretion, the Csring component, Spa33, was structurally uncharacterised. The crystal structure of the Cvterminal domain of Spa33 (Spa33-C) was determined in this study, showing an intertwined dimer that aligned with homologous structures and exhibited a novel interaction with the N-terminus of the ATPase regulator, MxiN. Subsequently, Spa33-C was identified as an altemative translation product of spa33 that formed a 2: 1 complex with Spa33 in vitro. This complex oligomerised further, demonstrating for the first time that Spa33 has the propensity to form the ordered, high molecular weight assemblies that would be required for C-ring formation in S. flexneri.
Supervisor: Lea, Susan M. Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; Crystallography ; NMR spectroscopy ; Bacteria ; Type III Secretion System ; Shigella flexneri ; Structural Biology ; Infection ; Protein Transport