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Surface proteins of Staphylococcus aureus are secreted across septal membranes for assembly into the bacterial cross-wall. This localized secretion requires the YSIRK/GXXS motif signal peptide, however the mechanisms supporting precursor trafficking are not known. We show here that the signal peptide of staphylococcal protein A (SpA) is cleaved at the YSIRK/GXXS motif. A SpA signal peptide mutant defective for YSIRK/GXXS cleavage is also impaired for septal secretion and co-purifies with SecA, SecDF and LtaS. SecA depletion blocks precursor targeting to septal membranes, whereas deletion of secDF diminishes SpA secretion into the cross-wall. Depletion of LtaS blocks lipoteichoic acid synthesis and abolishes SpA precursor trafficking to septal membranes. We propose a model whereby SecA directs SpA precursors to lipoteichoic acid-rich septal membranes for YSIRK/GXXS motif cleavage and secretion into the cross-wall.

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Microbiology and Infectious Disease, v. 7, art. e34092