Preferential packing of acidic glycosidases and proteases into Bacteroides outer membrane vesicles

Wael Elhenawy, Mykhaylo O. Debelyy, Mario F. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Outer membrane vesicles (OMV) are spherical membranous structures released from the outer membrane (OM) of Gram-negative bacteria. OMV have been proposed to play several different roles during both pathogenesis and symbiosis. Despite the fact that OMV were described several decades ago, their biogenesis is a poorly characterized process. Whether OMV are produced by an active mechanism or by passive disintegration of the OM is a still matter of controversy. Bacteroides fragilis and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron are important members of the human microbiota. In this work, we determined and compared the protein compositions of OM and OMV from B. fragilis and B. thetaiotaomicron. SDS-PAGE analysis of both fractions revealed dramatically different protein profiles. Proteomic analysis of OM and OMV in B. fragilis identified more than 40 proteins found exclusively in OMV and more than 30 proteins detectable only in the OM. The OMV-specific proteome showed a high prevalence of glycosidases and proteases, some of which were shown to be active in vitro. Similar results were obtained for B. thetaiotaomicron. Most of the OMV-exclusive proteins were acidic. Based on these results, we propose that these species possess machinery devoted to selectively pack acidic proteins into the OMV. These OMV equipped with hydrolytic enzymes could help in securing nutrients for the benefit of the whole bacterial community present in the microbiota, uncovering a novel function for bacterial OMV.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00909-14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 11 2014


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