Koretke KK., Szczesny P., Gruber M., Lupas AN. (2006) Model structure of the prototypical non-fimbrial adhesin YadA of Yersinia enterocolitica. Journal of Structural Biology 154–161. (Pubmed)


Non-fimbrial adhesins, such as Yersinia YadA, Moraxella UspA1 and A2, Haemophilus Hia and Hsf, or Bartonella BadA represent an important class of molecules by which pathogenic proteobacteria adhere to their hosts. They form trimeric surface structures with a head-stalk-anchor architecture. Whereas head and stalk domains are diverse and appear (frequently repetitively) in different combinations, the anchor domains are homologous and display the properties of autotransporters. We have built a molecular model for the prototypical non-fimbrial adhesin, YadA, by combining the crystal structure of the head (PDB:1P9H) with theoretical models for the stalk and the anchor. The head domain is a single-stranded, left-handed β-helix, connected to the stalk by a conserved trimerization element (the neck). The stalk consists of a right-handed coiled coil, containing ten 15-residue repeats with a C-terminal stutter (insertion of four residues). The stalk continues into the conserved anchor domain, which is formed by four heptads of a left-handed coiled coil, followed by four transmembrane β-strands. Our model of the YadA coiled coil, generated with the program BeammotifCC, combines these periodicities into a structure that starts with a pronounced right-handed supercoil and ends with a canonical, left-handed conformation. The last two heptads of the coiled coil are located within a 12-stranded β-barrel, formed by trimerization of the four transmembrane β-strands in each monomer. We propose that this pore assembles in the outer membrane to form the opening through which the monomer chains exit the cell. After export is completed, the fiber folds and the pore is occluded by the coiled coil. Our model explains how these proteins can act as autotransporters in the absence of any homology to classical, single-chain autotransporters.