Structural basis of subtilase cytotoxin SubAB assembly

Jerome Le Nours, Adrienne Webster Paton, Emma Byres, Sally Tanya Troy, Brock P Herdman, Matthew David Johnson, James C Paton, Jamie Rossjohn, Travis Clarke Beddoe

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli produce a number of toxins that belong to the AB5 toxin family, which comprise a catalytic A-subunit that induces cellular dysfunction and a B-pentamer that recognizes host glycans. Whilst the molecular actions of many of the individual subunits of AB5 toxins are well understood, how they self-associate and the effect of this association on cytotoxicity is poorly understood. Here we have solved the structure of the holo SubAB toxin that, in contrast to other AB5 toxins whose molecular targets are located in the cytosol, cleaves the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone BiP. SubA interacts with SubB in a similar manner to other AB5 toxins via the A2 helix and a conserved disulfide bond that joins the A1 domain with the A2 helix. The structure revealed that the active site of SubA is not occluded by the B-pentamer, and the B-pentamer does not enhance or inhibit the activity of SubA. Structure-based sequence comparisons of other AB5 toxin family members, combined with extensive mutagenesis studies on SubB, shows how the hydrophobic patch on top of the B-pentamer plays a dominant role in binding the A subunit. The structure of SubAB and the accompanying functional characterisation of various mutants of SubAB provide a framework for understanding the important role of the B-pentamer in the assembly and the intracellular trafficking of this AB5 toxin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27505 - 27516
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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