Secretion of Proteins from Bacteria

Article metrics


Secretion of foreign proteins from microorganisms in general and from Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis in particular is still a favoured option for the subsequent recovery of such proteins on a commercial scale. The variety of natural bacterial systems now being studied and the likely limiting factors in their adaptation for the export of heterologous proteins are reviewed. One major limiting factor is the lack of basic knowledge of the secretion mechanism. The details of one such system now being intensively studied, the secretion of haemolysin from E. coli, are described.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Blobel, G. and Dobberstein, B. 1975. Transfer of proteins across membranes. J. Cell Biol. 67:835–851.

  2. 2

    Blobel, G. 1980. Intracellular protein topogenesis. Proceedings Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 74:1496–1500.

  3. 3

    Walter, P., Gilmore, R. and Blobel, G. 1984. Protein translocation across the endoplasmic reticulum. Cell 38:5–8.

  4. 4

    Lauffer, L., Garcia, P.D., Harkins, R.N., Coussens, L., Ullrich, A. and Walter, P. 1985. Topology of signal recognition particle receptor in endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Nature 318:334–338.

  5. 5

    Silhavy, T.J., Benson, S.A. and Emr, S.D. 1983. Mechanism of protein localization. Microbiol. Rev. 47:313–344.

  6. 6

    Oliver, D.B. 1985. Identification of five new essential genes involved in the synthesis of a secreted protein in E. coli. J. Bacteriol. 161:285–291.

  7. 7

    Oliver, D.B. and Beckwith, J. 1982. Regulation of a membrane component required for protein secretion in E. coli. Cell 30:311–319.

  8. 8

    Talmadge, K., Kaufman, J. and Gilbert, W. 1980. Bacteria mature preproinsulin to proinsulin. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 77:3988–3992.

  9. 9

    Pugsley, A.P. and Schwartz, M. 1985. Export and secretion of proteins by bacteria. FEMS Microbiol. Rev. 32:3–38.

  10. 10

    Howard, S.P. and Buckley, J.T. 1983. Intracellular accumulation of extracellular proteins by pleiotropic export mutants of Aeromonas hydrophila. J. Bacteriol. 154:413–418.

  11. 11

    Dodd, D.C., Bassford, P.J. and Eisenstein, B.I. 1984. Dependence of secretion and assembly of type I fimbrial subunits of E. coli on normal protein export. J. Bacteriol. 159:1077–1079.

  12. 12

    Yamada, M., Ebina, Y., Miyata, T., Nakazawa, T. and Nakazawa, A. 1982. Nucleotide sequence of the structural gene for colicin E1 and predicted structure of the protein. Proceedings Natl. Acad. Sci. 79:2827–2831.

  13. 13

    Oudega, B., Ykema, A., Stegehuis, F. and De Graff, F.K. 1984. Detection and subcellular localization of mature protein H1 involved in secretion of cloacin DF13. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 22:101–108.

  14. 14

    Wickner, W.T. and Lodish, H.F. 1985. Multiple mechanisms of protein insertion into and across membranes. Science 230:400–407.

  15. 15

    Coleman, C., Inukai, M. and Inouye, M. 1985. Dual functions of the signal peptide in protein transfer across the membrane. Cell 43:351–360.

  16. 16

    Briggs, M.S., Gierasch, L.M., Zlotnick, A., Lear, J.D. and De Grado, W.F. 1985. In vivo function and membrane binding properties are correlated for E. coli lamB signal peptides. Science 228:1096–1098.

  17. 17

    Gilmore, R. and Blobel, G. 1985. Translocation of secretory proteins across the microsomal membrane occurs through an environment accessible to aqueous perturbants. Cell 42:497–505.

  18. 18

    Yamazaki, H., Ohmura, K., Nakayama, A., Takeichi, Y., Otozoi, K., Yamasaki, M., Tamura, G. and Yamane, K. 1983. α-Amylase genes from an α-Amylase hyperproducing Bacillus subtilis strain: molecular cloning and nucleotide sequence. J. Bacteriol. 156:327–337.

  19. 19

    Fahnstock, S.R., Vasantha, N., Saunders, C.W. and Guyer, M.S. 1985. ASM conference on molecular aspects of protein secretion and membrane assembly. Abstract 24:4.

  20. 20

    Lazzaroni, J-C. and Portaliar, R.C. 1981. Genetic and biochemical characterization of periplasmic leaky mutants of E. coli K12. J. Bacteriol. 145:1351–1358.

  21. 21

    Nicaud, J-M., Mackman, N. and Holland, I.B. 1986. Current status of secretion of foreign proteins by micro-organisms. A review. J. Biotechnology. In Press.

  22. 22

    Mackman, N., Nicaud, J-M., Gray, L. and Holland, I.B. 1985. Genetical and functional organization of the E. coli haemolysin determinant 2001. Mol. Gen. Genet. 201:282–288.

  23. 23

    Nicaud, J-M., Mackman, N., Gray, L. and Holland, I.B. 1985. Regulation of haemolysin synthesis in E. coli determined by Hly genes of human origin. Mol. Gen. Genet. 199:111–116.

  24. 24

    Nicaud, J-M., Mackman, N., Gray, L. and Holland, I.B. 1985. Characterization of HlyC and mechanism of activation and secretion of haemolysin from E. coli 2001. FEBS Letters 187:339–344.

  25. 25

    Mackman, N., Nicaud, J-M., Gray, L. and Holland, I.B. 1985. Identification of polypeptides requred for the export of haemolysin 2001 from E. coli. Mol. Gen. Genet. 201:529–536.

  26. 26

    Felmlee, T., Pellett, S. and Welch, R.A. 1985. Nucleotide sequence of an E. coli chromosomal haemolysin. J. Bacteriol. 163:94–105.

  27. 27

    Gray, L., Mackman, N., Nicaud, J-M. and Holland, I.B. 1986. In Preparation.

  28. 28

    Bayer, M.E. 1968. Areas of adhesion between wall and membrane of Escherichia coli. J. Gen. Microbiol. 53:395–404.

  29. 29

    Bhakdi, S., Mackman, N., Nicaud, J-M. and Holland, I.B. 1986. E. coli hemolysin damages target cell membranes by generating transmembrane pores. Infection and Immunity. In Press.

  30. 30

    Boyd, A. and Holland, I.B. 1979. Regulation of the synthesis of surface protein in the cell cycle of E. coli B/r. Cell 18:287–296.

  31. 31

    Shiba, K., Ito, K. and Yura, T. 1984. Mutation that suppresses the protein export defect of the secY mutation and causes cold-sensitive growth of E. coli. J. Bacteriol. 160:696–701.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Holland, I., Mackman, N. & Nicaud, J. Secretion of Proteins from Bacteria. Nat Biotechnol 4, 427–431 (1986) doi:10.1038/nbt0586-427

Download citation

Further reading