C-Terminal Signal Sequence Promotes Virulence Factor Secretion in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

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Science  15 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5793, pp. 1632-1636
DOI: 10.1126/science.1131167

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis uses the ESX-1/Snm system [early secreted antigen 6 kilodaltons (ESAT-6) system 1/secretion in mycobacteria] to deliver virulence factors into host macrophages during infection. Despite its essential role in virulence, the mechanism of ESX-1 secretion is unclear. We found that the unstructured C terminus of the CFP-10 substrate was recognized by Rv3871, a cytosolic component of the ESX-1 system that itself interacts with the membrane protein Rv3870. Point mutations in the signal that abolished binding of CFP-10 to Rv3871 prevented secretion of the CFP-10 (culture filtrate protein, 10 kilodaltons)/ESAT-6 virulence factor complex. Attachment of the signal to yeast ubiquitin was sufficient for secretion from M. tuberculosis cells, demonstrating that this ESX-1 signal is portable.

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