Molecular and General Genetics MGG

, Volume 249, Issue 2, pp 237–245 | Cite as

Secretion of active β-lactamase to the medium mediated by the Escherichia coli haemolysin transport pathway

  • Christian Chervaux
  • Nathalie Sauvonnet
  • Annick Le Clainche
  • Brendan Kenny
  • A. Lesley Hunt
  • Jenny K. Broome-Smith
  • I. Barry Holland
Original Paper


An in frame gene fusion containing the coding region for mature β-lactamase and the 3′-end of hylA encoding the haemolysin secretion signal, was constructed under the control of a lac promoter. The resulting 53 kDa hybrid protein was specifically secreted to the external medium in the presence of the haemolysin translocator proteins, HlyB and HlyD. The specific activity of the β-lactamase portion of the secreted protein (measured by the hydrolysis of penicillin G), approximately 1 U/μg protein, was close to that of authentic, purified TEM-β-lactamase. This is an important example of a hybrid protein that is enzymatically active, and secreted via the haemolysin pathway. Previous studies have indicated that haemolysin is secreted directly into the medium, bypassing the periplasm, to which β-lactamase is normally targeted. This study indicated, therefore, that normal folding of an active β-lactamase, can occur, at least when fused to the HlyA C-terminus, without the necessity of entering the periplasm. Despite the secretion of approximately 5 μg/ml levels of the active β-lactamase fusion into the medium, there was maximally only a 50% detectable increase in the LD50 for resistance to ampicillin at the individual cell level. This result suggests that, normally, resistance to ampicillin requires a high concentration of the enzyme close to killing targets, i.e. in the periplasm, in order to achieve significant levels of protection.

Key words

Haemolysin Secretion β-Lactamase Escherichia coli 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Chervaux
    • 1
  • Nathalie Sauvonnet
    • 1
  • Annick Le Clainche
    • 1
  • Brendan Kenny
    • 1
  • A. Lesley Hunt
    • 2
  • Jenny K. Broome-Smith
    • 2
  • I. Barry Holland
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, URA CNRS 1354Université Paris XIOrsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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