Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) provides a powerful tool for monitoring intermolecular interactions and a sensitive technique for studying Å-level protein conformational changes. One system that has particularly benefited from the sensitivity and diversity of FRET measurements is the maturation of the Shigella type III secretion apparatus (T3SA) needle tip complex. The Shigella T3SA delivers effector proteins into intestinal cells to promote bacterial invasion and spread. The T3SA is comprised of a basal body that spans the bacterial envelope and a needle with an exposed tip complex that matures in response to environmental stimuli. FRET measurements demonstrated bile salt binding by the nascent needle tip protein IpaD and also mapped resulting structural changes which led to the recruitment of the translocator IpaB. At the needle tip IpaB acts as a sensor for host cell contact but prior to secretion, it is stored as a heterodimeric complex with the chaperone IpgC. FRET analyses showed that chaperone binding to IpaB’s N-terminal domain causes a conformational change in the latter. These FRET analyses, with other biophysical methods, have been central to understanding T3SA maturation and will be highlighted, focusing on the details of the FRET measurements and the relevance to this particular system.
Dickenson, N.E.; Picking, W.D. Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) as a Tool for Dissecting the Molecular Mechanisms for Maturation of the Shigella Type III Secretion Needle Tip Complex. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2012, 13, 15137-15161.