Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
InlB is a Listeria monocytogenes protein that is sufficient to promote entry in a variety of mammalian cells. The last 232-amino-acid domain (Csa) of InlB has been shown to mediate attachment on the listerial surface, although its sequence does not suggest any known mechanism of association to the bacterial surface. InlB is present both on the bacterial surface and in culture supernatants. As has been recently demonstrated, both forms of InlB, soluble and surface-bound, can trigger signalling in host cells. To elucidate the specific role of each of the two forms, it was important to understand how InlB associates with the bacterial surface. Using microscopy, we find evidence that InlB is partially buried in the cell wall layer, and using fractionation experiments we demonstrate that InlB associates with the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane. Moreover, using purified lipoteichoic acid (LTA) and the three polypeptides InlB, Csa, or InlBΔCsa (InlB lacking the last 232 amino acids), we demonstrate that LTA is a ligand for the Csa domain of InlB. These results provide the first evidence of an interaction between lipoteichoic acids and a bacterial protein involved in adhesion and signalling, and highlight a new mechanism of protein association on the surface of Gram-positive bacteria.
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