Genetic Reporter System for Positioning of Proteins at the Bacterial Pole


Spatial organization within bacteria is fundamental to many cellular processes, although the basic mechanisms underlying localization of proteins to specific sites within bacteria are poorly understood. The study of protein positioning has been limited by a paucity of methods that allow rapid large-scale screening for mutants in which protein positioning is altered. We developed a genetic reporter system for protein localization to the pole within the bacterial cytoplasm that allows saturation screening for mutants in Escherichia coli in which protein localization is altered. Utilizing this system, we identify proteins required for proper positioning of the Shigella autotransporter IcsA. Autotransporters, widely distributed bacterial virulence proteins, are secreted at the bacterial pole. We show that the conserved cell division protein FtsQ is required for localization of IcsA and other autotransporters to the pole. We demonstrate further that this system can be applied to the study of proteins other than autotransporters that display polar positioning within bacterial cells.