The LolCDE complex, an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, releases lipoproteins from the inner membrane, thereby initiating lipoprotein sorting to the outer membrane of Escherichia coli. The LolCDE complex is composed of two copies of an ATPase subunit, LolD, and one copy each of integral membrane subunits LolC and LolE. LolD hydrolyzes ATP on the cytoplasmic side of the inner membrane, while LolC and/or LolE recognize and release lipoproteins anchored to the periplasmic leaflet of the inner membrane. Thus, functional interaction between LolD and LolC/E is critically important for coupling of ATP hydrolysis to the lipoprotein release reaction. LolD contains a characteristic sequence called the LolD motif, which is highly conserved among LolD homologs but not other ABC transporters of E. coli. The LolD motif is suggested to be a region in contact with LolC/E, judging from the crystal structures of other ABC transporters. To determine the functions of the LolD motif, we mutagenized each of the 32 residues of the LolD motif and isolated 26 dominant-negative mutants, whose overexpression arrested growth despite the chromosomal lolD+ background. We then selected suppressor mutations of the lolC and lolE genes that correct the growth defect caused by the LolD mutations. Mutations of the lolC suppressors were mainly located in the periplasmic loop, whereas ones of lolE suppressors were mainly located in the cytoplasmic loop, suggesting that the mode of interaction with LolD differs between LolC and LolE. Moreover, the LolD motif was found to be critical for functional interplay with LolC/E, since some LolD mutations lowered the ATPase activity of LolCDE without affecting that of LolD.
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