The Synthetic Phenotype of Δ Δ Double Mutants Results from a Lethal Jamming of the Bam Complex by the Lipoprotein RcsF.
The selective permeability of the Gram-negative outer membrane (OM) is maintained by integral β-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs). The heteropentomeric β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) folds and inserts OMPs into the OM. Coordination of the essential proteins BamA and BamD is critical for OMP assembly and therefore the viability of the cell. The role of the nonessential lipoproteins BamBCE has yet to be characterized; however, genetic evidence suggests that they have nonoverlapping roles in OMP assembly. In this work, we quantify changes of the proteome in the conditional lethal Δ Δ double mutant. We show that cells lacking BamB and BamE have a global OMP defect that is a result of a lethal obstruction of an assembly-competent Bam complex by the lipoprotein RcsF. RcsF is a stress-sensing lipoprotein that is threaded through the lumen of abundant β-barrel OMPs by the Bam complex to expose the amino terminus on the cell surface. We demonstrate that simply removing this lipoprotein corrects the severe OMP assembly defect of the double mutant nearly as efficiently as a previously isolated suppressor mutation in We propose that BamB and BamE play crucial, nonoverlapping roles to coordinate the activities of BamA and BamD during OMP biogenesis. Protein assembly into lipid bilayers is an essential process that ensures the viability of diverse organisms. In Gram-negative bacteria, the heteropentomeric β-barrel assembly machine (Bam) folds and inserts proteins into the outer membrane. Due to its essentiality, outer membrane protein (OMP) assembly by the Bam complex is an attractive target for antibiotic development. Here, we show that the conditional lethal phenotype of a mutant lacking two of the three nonessential lipoproteins, BamB and BamE, is caused by lethal jamming of the stripped-down Bam complex by a normally surface-exposed lipoprotein, RcsF. The heterotrimeric Bam complex (BamA, BamD, BamC) is nearly as efficient as the wild-type complex in OMP assembly if RcsF is removed. Our study highlights the importance of BamB and BamE in regulating the interaction between BamA and BamD and expands our understanding of the role of the Bam complex in outer membrane biogenesis.