Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28900103
Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 12;7(1):11326. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-10902-0.
Escherichia coli is a commensal or pathogenic bacterium that can survive in diverse environments. Adhesion to surfaces is essential for E. coli colonization, and thus it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that promote this process in different niches. Autotransporter proteins are a class of cell-surface factor used by E. coli for adherence. Here we characterized the regulation and function of YeeJ, a poorly studied but widespread representative from an emerging class of autotransporter proteins, the inverse autotransporters (IAT). We showed that the yeeJ gene is present in ~40% of 96 completely sequenced E. coli genomes and that YeeJ exists as two length variants, albeit with no detectable functional differences. We demonstrated that YeeJ promotes biofilm formation in different settings through exposition at the cell-surface. We also showed that YeeJ contains a LysM domain that interacts with peptidoglycan and thus assists its localization into the outer membrane. Additionally, we identified the Polynucleotide Phosphorylase PNPase as a repressor of yeeJ transcription. Overall, our work provides new insight into YeeJ as a member of the recently defined IAT class, and contributes to our understanding of how commensal and pathogenic E. coli colonise their environments.