PE is a functional domain responsible for protein translocation and localization on mycobacterial cell wall

Giovanni Delogu, Michela Sali, Giovanni Fadda, Marisa Colone, Annarita Stringaro, A Cascioferro, G Arancia, G Palù, R. Manganelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


The PE family of Mycobacterium tuberculosis includes 98 proteins which share a highly homologous N-terminus sequence of about 110 amino acids (PE domain). Depending on the C-terminal domain, the PE family can be divided in three subfamilies, the largest of which is the PE_PGRS with 61 members. In this study, we determined the cellular localization of three PE proteins by cell fractionation and immunoelectron microscopy by expressing chimeric epitope-tagged recombinant proteins in Mycobacterium smegmatis. We demonstrate that the PE domain of PE_PGRS33 and PE11 (a protein constituted by the only PE domain) contains the information necessary for cell wall localization, and that they can be used as N-terminal fusion partners to deliver a sufficiently long C-terminus-linked protein domain on the mycobacterial cell surface. Indeed, we demonstrate that PE_PGRS33 and Rv3097c (a lipase belonging to the PE family) are surface exposed and localize in the mycobacterial cell wall. Moreover, we found that PE_PGRS33 is easily extractable by detergents suggesting its localization in the mycobacterial outer membrane. Beyond defining the cellular localization of these proteins, and a function for their PE domains, these data open the interesting possibility to construct recombinant mycobacteria expressing heterologous antigens on their surface for vaccine purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1536-1547
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Binding Sites
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Wall
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endopeptidase K
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis
  • Protein Transport
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins


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