Spanin function requires subunit homodimerization through intermolecular disulfide bonds. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Rz and Rz1 proteins are the subunits of the spanin complex, required for the disruption of the outer membrane during host lysis. Rz, the inner membrane or i-spanin, has a largely alpha-helical periplasmic domain, whereas Rz1, the outer membrane or o-spanin, has a 25% proline content with no predicted secondary structure. We report that both Rz and Rz1 accumulate as homodimers covalently linked by intermolecular disulfide bonds involving all three Cys residues, two in Rz and one in Rz1. Moreover, of these three intermolecular disulfides, spanin function requires the presence of at least one of the two linkages nearest the Rz-Rz1 C-terminal interaction domains; i.e. either the Rz1-Rz1 disulfide or the distal Rz-Rz disulfide link. In a dsbC host, but not in dsbA or dsbA dsbC hosts, formation of the covalent homodimers of Rz is severely reduced and outer membrane disruption is significantly delayed, suggesting that the spanin pathway normally proceeds through DsbA-mediated formation of an intramolecular disulfide in Rz. In contrast, efficient formation of the Rz1-Rz1 disulfide requires DsbA. Finally, Dsb-independent formation of the covalent homodimer of either subunit requires the presence of the other, presumably as a template for close apposition of the thiols.

published proceedings

  • Mol Microbiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Berry, J. D., Rajaure, M., & Young, R. y.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Berry, Joel D||Rajaure, Manoj||Young, Ry

publication date

  • April 2013