Structural Similarities and Differences between Two Functionally Distinct SecA Proteins, Mycobacterium tuberculosis SecA1 and SecA2. Academic Article uri icon


  • UNLABELLED: While SecA is the ATPase component of the major bacterial secretory (Sec) system, mycobacteria and some Gram-positive pathogens have a second paralog, SecA2. In bacteria with two SecA paralogs, each SecA is functionally distinct, and they cannot compensate for one another. Compared to SecA1, SecA2 exports a distinct and smaller set of substrates, some of which have roles in virulence. In the mycobacterial system, some SecA2-dependent substrates lack a signal peptide, while others contain a signal peptide but possess features in the mature protein that necessitate a role for SecA2 in their export. It is unclear how SecA2 functions in protein export, and one open question is whether SecA2 works with the canonical SecYEG channel to export proteins. In this study, we report the structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis SecA2 (MtbSecA2), which is the first structure of any SecA2 protein. A high level of structural similarity is observed between SecA2 and SecA1. The major structural difference is the absence of the helical wing domain, which is likely to play a role in how MtbSecA2 recognizes its unique substrates. Importantly, structural features critical to the interaction between SecA1 and SecYEG are preserved in SecA2. Furthermore, suppressor mutations of a dominant-negative secA2 mutant map to the surface of SecA2 and help identify functional regions of SecA2 that may promote interactions with SecYEG or the translocating polypeptide substrate. These results support a model in which the mycobacterial SecA2 works with SecYEG. IMPORTANCE: SecA2 is a paralog of SecA1, which is the ATPase of the canonical bacterial Sec secretion system. SecA2 has a nonredundant function with SecA1, and SecA2 exports a distinct and smaller set of substrates than SecA1. This work reports the crystal structure of SecA2 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the first SecA2 structure reported for any organism). Many of the structural features of SecA1 are conserved in the SecA2 structure, including putative contacts with the SecYEG channel. Several structural differences are also identified that could relate to the unique function and selectivity of SecA2. Suppressor mutations of a secA2 mutant map to the surface of SecA2 and help identify functional regions of SecA2 that may promote interactions with SecYEG.

published proceedings

  • J Bacteriol

author list (cited authors)

  • Swanson, S., Ioerger, T. R., Rigel, N. W., Miller, B. K., Braunstein, M., & Sacchettini, J. C.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Swanson, Stephanie||Ioerger, Thomas R||Rigel, Nathan W||Miller, Brittany K||Braunstein, Miriam||Sacchettini, James C

editor list (cited editors)

  • Schneewind, O.

publication date

  • December 2015