Characterization of the TolB-Pal trans-envelope complex from Xylella fastidiosa reveals a dynamic and coordinated protein expression profile during the biofilm development process

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The intriguing roles of the bacterial Tol-Pal trans-envelope protein complex range from maintenance of cell envelope integrity to potential participation in the process of cell division. In this study, we report the characterization of the XfFolB and XfPal proteins of the Tol-Pal complex of Xylella fastidiosa. X. fastidiosa is a major plant pathogen that forms biofilms inside xylem vessels, triggering the development of diseases in important cultivable plants around the word. Based on functional complementation experiments in Escherichia coli tolB and pal mutant strains, we confirmed the role of xftolB and xfpal in outer membrane integrity. In addition, we observed a dynamic and coordinated protein expression profile during the X. fastidiosa biofilm development process. Using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), the low-resolution structure of the isolated XfToIB-XfPal complex in solution was solved for the first time. Finally, the localization of the XfFolB and XfPal polar ends was visualized via immunofluorescence labeling in vivo during bacterial cell growth. Our results highlight the major role of the components of the cell envelope, particularly the TolB-Pal complex, during the different phases of bacterial biofilm development.


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  • Escherichia coli
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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