Targeting of two effector protein classes to the type III secretion system by a HpaC- and HpaB-dependent protein complex from Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria


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The Gram-negative plant pathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria translocates effector proteins via a specialized type III secretion (TTS) system into the host cell cytosol. The efficient secretion of many effector proteins depends on the global TTS chaperone HpaB. Here, we identified a novel export control protein, HpaC, which significantly contributes to bacterial pathogenicity. Deletion of hpaC leads to a severe reduction in secretion of effector proteins and the putative type III translocon proteins HrpF and XopA. By contrast, secretion of the TTS pilus protein HrpE is not affected. We provide experimental evidence that HpaC differentiates between two classes of effector proteins. Using an in vivo reporter assay, we found that HpaC specifically promotes the translocation of the effector proteins XopJ and XopF1 into the plant cell, whereas AvrBs3 and XopC are efficiently translocated even in the absence of HpaC. Similar findings were obtained for HpaB. Inhibition of protein synthesis suggests that HpaB is involved in the secretion of stored effector proteins. Furthermore, protein–protein interaction studies revealed that HpaB and HpaC form an oligomeric protein complex and that they interact with members of both effector protein classes and the conserved TTS system component HrcV. Taken together, our data indicate that HpaB and HpaC play a central role in recruiting TTS substrates to the secretion apparatus.