Structural and functional studies on the N-terminal domain of the Shigella type III secretion protein MxiG.
McDowell MA., Johnson S., Deane JE., Cheung M., Roehrich AD., Blocker AJ., McDonnell JM., Lea SM.
MxiG is a single-pass membrane protein that oligomerizes within the inner membrane ring of the Shigella flexneri type III secretion system (T3SS). The MxiG N-terminal domain (MxiG-N) is the predominant cytoplasmic structure; however, its role in T3SS assembly and secretion is largely uncharacterized. We have determined the solution structure of MxiG-N residues 6-112 (MxiG-N(6-112)), representing the first published structure of this T3SS domain. The structure shows strong structural homology to forkhead-associated (FHA) domains. Canonically, these cell-signaling modules bind phosphothreonine (Thr(P)) via highly conserved residues. However, the putative phosphate-binding pocket of MxiG-N(6-112) does not align with other FHA domain structures or interact with Thr(P). Furthermore, mutagenesis of potential phosphate-binding residues has no effect on S. flexneri T3SS assembly and function. Therefore, MxiG-N has a novel function for an FHA domain. Positioning of MxiG-N(6-112) within the EM density of the S. flexneri needle complex gives insight into the ambiguous stoichiometry of the T3SS, supporting models with 24 MxiG subunits in the inner membrane ring.