Differential Packaging of Outer Membrane Proteins of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli into Outer Membrane Vesicles under Oxidative Stress Conditions Reveals a Potential Mechanism for Vesicle Cargo Selectivity

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are spherical structures that bud from the outer membrane (OM) of bacteria containing OM and periplasmic material. They are known to be produced by all bacteria studied to date and play important roles in inter-bacterial communication, bacterial-host interactions, toxin delivery, survival, nutrient acquisition, and biofilm development. The process of OMV production is known to be genetically regulated and selective cargo packaging into bacterial vesicles has been reported and implicated in many biological processes. While much is known about how cargo gets incorporated into vesicles in eukaryotic systems, the mechanism behind cargo selectivity in bacteria has remained largely unexplored. In this study we aimed to characterize preferential sorting trends in OMV packaging in Escherichia coli under oxidative stress, and investigate the mechanism behind selective sorting into OMVs. Proteomic analysis of outer membrane (OM) and OM vesicle fractions from enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) revealed significant differences in protein abundance in the OMV and OM fractions for cultures shifted to oxidative stress conditions. Analysis of sequences of proteins preferentially packaged into OMVs showed that proteins with oxidizable residues were more packaged into OMVs in comparison with those retained in the membrane. In addition, the results indicated two distinct classes of OM-associated proteins were differentially packaged into OMVs as a function of peroxide treatment and we observed a slight increase in periplasmic content. Implementing a Bayesian hierarchical model, OM lipoproteins were determined to be preferentially exported during stress whereas integral OM proteins were preferentially retained in the cell. We first inquired whether this sorting was due to the need of the cell to discard or retain OM proteins and tested oxidative stress sensitivity of mutants of lipoproteins and integral proteins. We hypothesized that mutants of lipoproteins would not be more sensitive than integral proteins however both groups showed increased sensitivity. Therefore, this did not explain this preferential sorting. We next wondered if selectivity was dependent on gene expression. By mining gene expression databases and performing qRT-PCR we found the sorting to be independent of transcriptional regulation of the proteins upon oxidative stress. We were also able to validate these preferential sorting trends of lipoproteins vs integral proteins using randomly selected protein candidates from the different cargo classes. We also observed that a shift to oxidative stress conditions improved the fitness of bacteria to a secondary oxidative challenge, suggesting the differential sorting resulted in an OMV-mediated remodeling of the OM during stress. Together, our data showed that oxidative stress induced a differential sorting of proteins into OMVs and OM of E. coli and that OMV production might serve as a disposal mechanism for the cell to rid itself of oxidized proteins. Since our data revealed that the preferentially retained proteins were those known to have ties to other cell envelope components, a hypothetical functional and mechanistic basis for cargo selectivity was tested using OmpA as a model. A full-length and a truncated version of OmpA were used to test whether physical tethering to the cell is a determinant for protein retention in the OM. Quantifying OMV protein packaging of both OmpA constructs revealed a basic mechanism for cargo selectivity into OMVs. We show that the untethered version of OmpA was more likely to be exported than the tethered version and that this preferential selection was exacerbated under oxidative stress. The findings of this study provide insight into the dynamics of bacterial cargo selection and membrane remodeling during stress as well as propose and test a mechanism for cargo incorporation in E. coli.






Orench-Rivera, Nichole (2020). Differential Packaging of Outer Membrane Proteins of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli into Outer Membrane Vesicles under Oxidative Stress Conditions Reveals a Potential Mechanism for Vesicle Cargo Selectivity. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21498.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.