FEMS microbiology letters

Lipopolysaccharide surface structure does not influence IcsA polarity.

PMID 25778729


Shigella species are the causative agents of human bacillary dysentery. These bacteria spread within the lining of the gut via a process termed actin-based motility whereby an actin 'tail' is formed at the bacterial pole. The bacterial outer membrane protein IcsA initiates this process, and crucially is precisely positioned on the bacterial polar surface. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigen surface structure has been implicated as an augmenting factor of polarity maintenance due to the apparent dysregulation of IcsA polarity in O-antigen deficient strains. Due to Shigellae having long and short O-antigen chains on their surfaces, it has been proposed that O-antigen chain lengths are asymmetrically distributed to optimize IcsA exposure at the pole and mask exposure laterally. Additionally, it has been proposed that LPS O-antigen restricts IcsA diffusion from the pole by maintaining minimal membrane fluidity. This study utilizes minicells and quantitative microscopy providing data refuting the models of asymmetric masking and membrane diffusion, and supporting a model of symmetric masking of IcsA. We contend that IcsA surface distribution is equivalent between wild-type and O-antigen deficient strains, and that differences in cellular IcsA levels have confounded previous conclusions.