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MYXO-CTERM sorting tag directs proteins to the cell surface via the type II secretion system.Cells interact with their surrounding environment through surface proteins. However, knowledge gaps remain in understanding how these important types of proteins are transported and anchored on the cell surface. In the Gram-negative social bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus, a putative C-terminal sorting tag (MYXO-CTERM) is predicted to help direct 34 different proteins onto the cell surface. Here we investigate the sorting pathway for MYXO-CTERM proteins by using the TraA cell surface receptor as a paradigm. Deleting this motif from TraA abolishes the cell surface anchoring and results in extracellular secretion. Our findings indicate that conserved cysteines within the MYXO-CTERM are posttranslationally modified and are required for TraA cell surface localization and function. A region immediately upstream of these residues is predicted to be disordered and removing this motif caused a secretion defect and blocked cell surface anchoring. We further show that the type II secretion system is required for translocation across the outer membrane and that a cysteine-rich region directs TraA to the T2SS. Similar results were found with another MYXO-CTERM protein indicating our findings can be generalized. Further, we show the universal distribution of MXYO-CTERM motif across the Myxococcales order and provide a working model for sorting of these proteins.
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