An investigation into the Omp85 protein BamK in hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae, and its role in outer membrane biogenesis

Von Vergel L. Torres, Eva Heinz, Christopher J. Stubenrauch, Jonathan J. Wilksch, Hanwei Cao, Ji Yang, Abigail Clements, Rhys A. Dunstan, Felicity Alcock, Chaille T. Webb, G. Dougan, Richard A. Strugnell, Iain D. Hay, Trevor Lithgow

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Members of the Omp85 protein superfamily have important roles in Gram-negative bacteria, with the archetypal protein BamA being ubiquitous given its essential function in the assembly of outer membrane proteins. In some bacterial lineages, additional members of the family exist and, in most of these cases, the function of the protein is unknown. We detected one of these Omp85 proteins in the pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae B5055, and refer to the protein as BamK. Here, we show that bamK is a conserved element in the core genome of Klebsiella, and its expression rescues a loss-of-function ∆bamA mutant. We developed an E. coli model system to measure and compare the specific activity of BamA and BamK in the assembly reaction for the critical substrate LptD, and find that BamK is as efficient as BamA in assembling the native LptDE complex. Comparative structural analysis revealed that the major distinction between BamK and BamA is in the external facing surface of the protein, and we discuss how such changes may contribute to a mechanism for resistance against infection by bacteriophage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-599
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • BAM complex
  • BamA
  • hypervirulence
  • cell wall
  • beta-barrel proteins

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