Wza is a highly conserved multimeric outer membrane protein complex required for the surface expression of the serotype K30 group 1 capsular polysaccharide in Escherichia coli. Here we present the first three-dimensional structure of this type of polysaccharide exporter at a 15.5-A resolution obtained using single particle averaging on a dataset of cryo-negatively stained protein. Previous structural studies on purified Wza have revealed a homo-oligomeric ring structure that is most probably composed of eight subunits. Symmetry analysis of the three-dimensional structure combined with biochemical two- and three-dimensional crystallographic data strongly suggest that Wza is an octameric complex with a C4 quasi-rotational symmetry and is organized as a tetramer of dimeric subunits. Wza is best described as a stack of two 4-A high rings with differing diameters providing a mushroom-like aspect from the side. The larger ring has a distinctive square shape with a diameter of 115 A, whereas the smaller is almost circular with a diameter of 90 A. In the center of the complex and enclosed by the four symmetrical arms is a small elliptical cagelike cavity of approximately 40 A in diameter. The central cavity is effectively sealed at the top and bottom of the complex but has small inter-arm holes when viewed from the side. We discuss the structure of this complex and implications in the surface translocation of cell-surface polysaccharide.
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