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The GAP Activity of Type III Effector YopE Triggers Killing of Yersinia in Macrophages

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      The mammalian immune system has the ability to discriminate between pathogens and innocuous microbes by detecting conserved molecular patterns. In addition to conserved microbial patterns, the mammalian immune system may recognize distinct pathogen-induced processes through a mechanism which is poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that a type III secretion system (T3SS) in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis leads to decreased survival of this bacterium in primary murine macrophages by unknown mechanisms. Here, we use colony forming unit assays and fluorescence microscopy to investigate how the T3SS triggers killing of Yersinia in macrophages. We present evidence that Yersinia outer protein E (YopE) delivered by the T3SS triggers intracellular killing response against Yersinia. YopE mimics eukaryotic GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) and inactivates Rho GTPases in host cells. Unlike wild-type YopE, catalytically dead YopER144A is impaired in restricting Yersinia intracellular survival, highlighting that the GAP activity of YopE is detected as a danger signal. Additionally, a second translocated effector, YopT, counteracts the YopE triggered killing effect by decreasing the translocation level of YopE and possibly by competing for the same pool of Rho GTPase targets. Moreover, inactivation of Rho GTPases by Clostridium difficile Toxin B mimics the effect of YopE and promotes increased killing of Yersinia in macrophages. Using a Rac inhibitor NSC23766 and a Rho inhibitor TAT-C3, we show that macrophages restrict Yersinia intracellular survival in response to Rac1 inhibition, but not Rho inhibition. In summary, our findings reveal that primary macrophages sense manipulation of Rho GTPases by Yersinia YopE and actively counteract pathogenic infection by restricting intracellular bacterial survival. Our results uncover a new mode of innate immune recognition in response to pathogenic infection.

      Author Summary

      The type III secretion system (T3SS) is a macromolecular protein export pathway found in gram-negative bacteria. It delivers bacterial toxins into eukaryotic cells to promote pathogenic infection. T3SSs and the bacterial toxins delivered are critical arsenals for many bacterial pathogens of clinical significance, such as Yersinia, Salmonella and Shigella. On the other hand, the mammalian immune system may recognize the T3SS as a danger signal to signify pathogenic infection, and to stimulate appropriate defense against pathogens. Here, we show that the innate immune system recognizes the activity of YopE delivered by the Yersinia T3SS. Modulation of host Rho GTPases by YopE elicits a defensive response, which results in killing of bacteria in host cells. Inhibition of host Rho GTPases by Clostridium difficile Toxin B, another bacterial toxin, mimics the YopE-triggered killing effect. Our study demonstrates that host cells sense manipulation of Rho GTPases by bacterial toxins as a surveillance mechanism, revealing new insights into innate immune recognition of pathogenic infections.

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          Yersinia pestis--etiologic agent of plague.

          Plague is a widespread zoonotic disease that is caused by Yersinia pestis and has had devastating effects on the human population throughout history. Disappearance of the disease is unlikely due to the wide range of mammalian hosts and their attendant fleas. The flea/rodent life cycle of Y. pestis, a gram-negative obligate pathogen, exposes it to very different environmental conditions and has resulted in some novel traits facilitating transmission and infection. Studies characterizing virulence determinants of Y. pestis have identified novel mechanisms for overcoming host defenses. Regulatory systems controlling the expression of some of these virulence factors have proven quite complex. These areas of research have provide new insights into the host-parasite relationship. This review will update our present understanding of the history, etiology, epidemiology, clinical aspects, and public health issues of plague.

            Author and article information

            Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Center for Infectious Diseases, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, United States of America
            University of California, Davis, United States of America
            Author notes

            The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

            Conceived and designed the experiments: XW JBB. Performed the experiments: XW KP AS. Analyzed the data: XW JBB. Wrote the paper: XW JBB.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS Pathog
            PLoS Pathog
            PLoS Pathogens
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            August 2014
            28 August 2014
            : 10
            : 8
            25165815 4148447 PPATHOGENS-D-14-00511 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004346

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            Pages: 16
            This research was supported by awards from the NIH and NIAID (R01AI099222 and U54AI057158-Lipkin). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
            Research Article
            Biology and Life Sciences
            Cell Biology
            Cellular Types
            Animal Cells
            Blood Cells
            White Blood Cells
            Immune Cells
            Clinical Immunology
            Infectious Disease Immunology
            Medical Microbiology
            Microbial Pathogens
            Bacterial Pathogens
            Yersinia Pseudotuberculosis

            Infectious disease & Microbiology


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