Structural determinants of processing and secretion of the Haemophilus influenzae Hap protein

David R. Hendrixson, Maria L. De La Morena, Christos Stathopoulos, Joseph W. St. Geme

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94 Scopus citations


Haemophilus influenzae elaborates a surface protein called Hap, which is associated with the capacity for intimate interaction with cultured epithelial cells. Expression of hap results in the production of three protein species: outer membrane proteins of approximately 155 kDa and 45 kDa and an extracellular protein of approximately 110 kDa. The 155 kDa protein corresponds to full-length mature Hap (without the signal sequence), and the 110 kDa extracellular protein represents the N-terminal portion of mature Hap (designated Hap,). In the present study, we examined the mechanism of processing and secretion of Hap. Site-directed mutagenesis suggested that Hap is a serine protease that undergoes autoproteolytic cleavage to generate the 110 kDa extracellular protein and the 45 kDa outer membrane protein. Biochemical analysis confirmed this conclusion and established that cleavage occurs on the bacterial cell surface. Determination of N-terminal amino acid sequence and mutagenesis studies revealed that the 45 kDa protein corresponds to the C-terminal portion of Hap, starting at N1037. Analysis of the secondary structure of this protein (designated Hap(β)) predicted formation of a β-barrel with an N-terminal transmembrane α-helix followed by 14 transmembrane β-strands. Additional analysis revealed that the final β-strand contains an amino acid motif common to other (β-barrel outer membrane proteins. Upon deletion of this entire C-terminal consensus motif, Hap could no longer be detected in the outer membrane, and secretion of Hap(s), was abolished. Deletion or complete alteration of the final three amino acid residues had a similar but less dramatic effect, suggesting that this terminal tripeptide is particularly important for outer membrane localization and/or stability of the protein. In contrast, isolated point mutations that disrupted the amphipathic nature of the consensus motif or eliminated the C-terminal tryptophan had no effect on outer membrane localization of Hap(s) or secretion of Hap(s). These results provide insight into a growing family of Gram-negative bacterial exoproteins that are secreted by an IgA1 protease-like mechanism; in addition, they contribute to a better understanding of the structural determinants of targeting of β-barrel proteins to the bacterial outer membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-518
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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