Substrate translocation involves specific lysine residues of the central channel of the conjugative coupling protein TrwB

Delfina Larrea, Héctor D. de Paz, Inmaculada Matilla, Dolores L. Guzmán-Herrador, Gorka Lasso, Fernando de la Cruz, Elena Cabezón, Matxalen Llosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Conjugative transfer of plasmid R388 requires the coupling protein TrwB for protein and DNA transport, but their molecular role in transport has not been deciphered. We investigated the role of residues protruding into the central channel of the TrwB hexamer by a mutational analysis. Mutations affecting lysine residues K275, K398, and K421, and residue S441, all facing the internal channel, affected transport of both DNA and the relaxase protein in vivo. The ATPase activity of the purified soluble variants was affected significantly in the presence of accessory protein TrwA or DNA, correlating with their behaviour in vivo. Alteration of residues located at the cytoplasmic or the inner membrane interface resulted in lower activity in vivo and in vitro, while variants affecting residues in the central region of the channel showed increased DNA and protein transfer efficiency and higher ATPase activity, especially in the absence of TrwA. In fact, these variants could catalyze DNA transfer in the absence of TrwA under conditions in which the wild-type system was transfer deficient. Our results suggest that protein and DNA molecules have the same molecular requirements for translocation by Type IV secretion systems, with residues at both ends of the TrwB channel controlling the opening–closing mechanism, while residues embedded in the channel would set the pace for substrate translocation (both protein and DNA) in concert with TrwA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1049
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Genetics and Genomics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial conjugation
  • DNA transport
  • Molecular motors
  • Type IV secretion systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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