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Summary

Bacterial binding to human platelets is an important step in the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis. Streptococcus gordonii can mediate its platelet attachment through a cell wall glycoprotein termed GspB (‘gordonii surface protein B’). GspB export is mediated by a seven-component accessory Sec system, containing two homologues of the general secretory pathway (SecA2 and SecY2) and five accessory Sec proteins (Asps1–5). Here we show that the Asps are required for optimal export of GspB independent of the glycosylation process. Furthermore, yeast two-hybrid screening of the accessory Sec system revealed interactions occurring between Asp3 and the other components of the system. Asp3 was shown to bind SecA2, Asp1, Asp2 and itself. Mutagenesis of Asp3 identified N- and C-terminal regions that are essential for GspB transport, and conserved residues within the C-terminal domain mediated Asp3 binding to other accessory Sec components. The loss of binding by Asp3 also resulted in an impaired ability of S. gordonii to secrete GspB. These studies indicate that Asp3 is a central element mediating multiple interactions among accessory Sec components that are essential for GspB transport to the cell surface.