Proteins of generalist and specialist pathogens differ in their amino acid composition
Blanco LP., Payne BL., Feyertag F., Alvarez-Ponce D.
<jats:p>Pathogens differ in their host specificities, with species infecting a unique host (specialist pathogens) and others having a wide host range (generalists). Molecular determinants of pathogen’s host range remain poorly understood. Secreted proteins of generalist pathogens are expected to have a broader range of intermolecular interactions (i.e., higher promiscuity) compared with their specialist counterparts. We hypothesize that this increased promiscuity of generalist secretomes may be based on an elevated content of primitive amino acids and intrinsically disordered regions, as these features are known to increase protein flexibility and interactivity. Here, we measure the proportion of primitive amino acids and percentage of intrinsically disordered residues in secreted, membrane, and cytoplasmic proteins from pathogens with different host specificity. Supporting our prediction, there is a significant general enrichment for primitive amino acids and intrinsically disordered regions in proteins from generalists compared to specialists, particularly among secreted proteins in prokaryotes. Our findings support our hypothesis that secreted proteins' amino acid composition and disordered content influence the pathogens' host range.</jats:p>