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1.  The Legionella pneumophila Effector VipA Is an Actin Nucleator That Alters Host Cell Organelle Trafficking 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(2):e1002546.
Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, invades and replicates within macrophages and protozoan cells inside a vacuole. The type IVB Icm/Dot secretion system is necessary for the translocation of effector proteins that modulate vesicle trafficking pathways in the host cell, thus avoiding phagosome-lysosome fusion. The Legionella VipA effector was previously identified by its ability to interfere with organelle trafficking in the Multivesicular Body (MVB) pathway when ectopically expressed in yeast. In this study, we show that VipA binds actin in vitro and directly polymerizes microfilaments without the requirement of additional proteins, displaying properties distinct from other bacterial actin nucleators. Microscopy studies revealed that fluorescently tagged VipA variants localize to puncta in eukaryotic cells. In yeast these puncta are associated with actin-rich regions and components of the Multivesicular Body pathway such as endosomes and the MVB-associated protein Bro1. During macrophage infection, native translocated VipA associated with actin patches and early endosomes. When ectopically expressed in mammalian cells, VipA-GFP displayed a similar distribution ruling out the requirement of additional effectors for binding to its eukaryotic targets. Interestingly, a mutant form of VipA, VipA-1, that does not interfere with organelle trafficking is also defective in actin binding as well as association with early endosomes and shows a homogeneous cytosolic localization. These results show that the ability of VipA to bind actin is related to its association with a specific subcellular location as well as its role in modulating organelle trafficking pathways. VipA constitutes a novel type of actin nucleator that may contribute to the intracellular lifestyle of Legionella by altering cytoskeleton dynamics to target host cell pathways.
Author Summary
Legionella pneumophila is a facultative intracellular bacterium that can cause an often fatal type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease. In nature, L. pneumophila is found in both fresh water and soil where it parasitizes free-living protists. Upon inhalation of contaminated aerosols, L. pneumophila invades and replicates in alveolar macrophages, leading to inflammation and development of the disease. Legionella uses a type IVB secretion system to translocate effector proteins into the host cell that modify its trafficking pathways and prevent fusion of the newly formed phagosome with the lysosome. One of these effectors is VipA, which, when expressed in yeast interferes with the Multivesicular Body (MVB) pathway. We found that VipA protein binds actin and nucleates its polymerization without additional host factors. VipA localizes in puncta in eukaryotic cells, and these colocalize with actin-rich regions and endosomes. We demonstrate that the ability to disrupt the MVB is associated with the capacity to bind actin. Thus VipA may contribute to the intracellular lifestyle of L. pneumophila by targeting the cytoskeleton in order to disrupt normal vacuolar trafficking pathways in host cells.
PMCID: PMC3285593  PMID: 22383880
2.  The Legionella Kinase LegK2 Targets the ARP2/3 Complex To Inhibit Actin Nucleation on Phagosomes and Allow Bacterial Evasion of the Late Endocytic Pathway 
mBio  2015;6(3):e00354-15.
Legionella pneumophila, the etiological agent of legionellosis, replicates within phagocytic cells. Crucial to biogenesis of the replicative vacuole is the Dot/Icm type 4 secretion system, which translocates a large number of effectors into the host cell cytosol. Among them is LegK2, a protein kinase that plays a key role in Legionella infection. Here, we identified the actin nucleator ARP2/3 complex as a target of LegK2. LegK2 phosphorylates the ARPC1B and ARP3 subunits of the ARP2/3 complex. LegK2-dependent ARP2/3 phosphorylation triggers global actin cytoskeleton remodeling in cells, and it impairs actin tail formation by Listeria monocytogenes, a well-known ARP2/3-dependent process. During infection, LegK2 is addressed to the Legionella-containing vacuole surface and inhibits actin polymerization on the phagosome, as revealed by legK2 gene inactivation. Consequently, LegK2 prevents late endosome/lysosome association with the phagosome and finally contributes to remodeling of the bacterium-containing phagosome into a replicative niche. The inhibition of actin polymerization by LegK2 and its effect on endosome trafficking are ARP2/3 dependent since it can be phenocopied by a specific chemical inhibitor of the ARP2/3 complex. Thus, LegK2-ARP2/3 interplay highlights an original mechanism of bacterial virulence with an unexpected role in local actin remodeling that allows bacteria to control vesicle trafficking in order to escape host defenses.
Deciphering the individual contribution of each Dot/Icm type 4 secretion system substrate to the intracellular life-style of L. pneumophila remains the principal challenge in understanding the molecular basis of Legionella virulence. Our finding that LegK2 is a Dot/Icm effector that inhibits actin polymerization on the Legionella-containing vacuole importantly contributes to the deciphering of the molecular mechanisms evolved by Legionella to counteract the endocytic pathway. Indeed, our results highlight the essential role of LegK2 in preventing late endosomes from fusing with the phagosome. More generally, this work is the first demonstration of local actin remodeling as a mechanism used by bacteria to control organelle trafficking. Further, by characterizing the role of the bacterial protein kinase LegK2, we reinforce the concept that posttranslational modifications are key strategies used by pathogens to evade host cell defenses.
PMCID: PMC4436068  PMID: 25944859
3.  Actin Dynamics Regulate Multiple Endosomal Steps during Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Entry and Trafficking in Endothelial Cells 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(7):e1000512.
The role of actin dynamics in clathrin-mediated endocytosis in mammalian cells is unclear. In this study, we define the role of actin cytoskeleton in Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) entry and trafficking in endothelial cells using an immunofluorescence-based assay to visualize viral capsids and the associated cellular components. In contrast to infectivity or reporter assays, this method does not rely on the expression of any viral and reporter genes, but instead directly tracks the accumulation of individual viral particles at the nuclear membrane as an indicator of successful viral entry and trafficking in cells. Inhibitors of endosomal acidification reduced both the percentage of nuclei with viral particles and the total number of viral particles docking at the perinuclear region, indicating endocytosis, rather than plasma membrane fusion, as the primary route for KSHV entry into endothelial cells. Accordingly, a viral envelope protein was only detected on internalized KSHV particles at the early but not late stage of infection. Inhibitors of clathrin- but not caveolae/lipid raft-mediated endocytosis blocked KSHV entry, indicating that clathrin-mediated endocytosis is the major route of KSHV entry into endothelial cells. KSHV particles were colocalized not only with markers of early and recycling endosomes, and lysosomes, but also with actin filaments at the early time points of infection. Consistent with these observations, transferrin, which enters cells by clathrin-mediated endocytosis, was found to be associated with actin filaments together with early and recycling endosomes, and to a lesser degree, with late endosomes and lysosomes. KSHV infection induced dynamic actin cytoskeleton rearrangements. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and inhibition of regulators of actin nucleation such as Rho GTPases and Arp2/3 complex profoundly blocked KSHV entry and trafficking. Together, these results indicate an important role for actin dynamics in the internalization and endosomal sorting/trafficking of KSHV and clathrin-mediated endocytosis in endothelial cells.
Author Summary
Endocytosis, an essential biological process mediating cellular internalization events, is often exploited by pathogens for their entry into target cells. The role of actin cytoskeleton in clathrin-mediated endocytosis in mammalian cells remains unclear. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus linked to the development of Kaposi's sarcoma, an endothelial malignancy commonly found in AIDS patients, and several other malignancies. In this study, we found that KSHV uses the clathrin-mediated endocytosis pathway to enter endothelial cells, and this process is regulated by actin dynamics. We found KSHV particles in early and recycling endosomes, and lysosomes, which are docked on actin filaments at the early time points of viral infection. Similarly, transferrin, which enters cells by clathrin-mediated endocytosis, is associated with actin filaments together with early and recycling endosomes, and, to a lesser degree, with late endosomes and lysosomes. Disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and inhibition of regulators of actin nucleation such as Rho GTPases and Arp2/3 complex profoundly blocked KSHV entry and trafficking in endothelial cells. Together, these results define an important role for actin dynamics in multiple endosomal steps during KSHV infection and clathrin-mediated endocytosis in endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC2702172  PMID: 19593382
4.  VipD of Legionella pneumophila Targets Activated Rab5 and Rab22 to Interfere with Endosomal Trafficking in Macrophages 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(12):e1003082.
Upon phagocytosis, Legionella pneumophila translocates numerous effector proteins into host cells to perturb cellular metabolism and immunity, ultimately establishing intracellular survival and growth. VipD of L. pneumophila belongs to a family of bacterial effectors that contain the N-terminal lipase domain and the C-terminal domain with an unknown function. We report the crystal structure of VipD and show that its C-terminal domain robustly interferes with endosomal trafficking through tight and selective interactions with Rab5 and Rab22. This domain, which is not significantly similar to any known protein structure, potently interacts with the GTP-bound active form of the two Rabs by recognizing a hydrophobic triad conserved in Rabs. These interactions prevent Rab5 and Rab22 from binding to downstream effectors Rabaptin-5, Rabenosyn-5 and EEA1, consequently blocking endosomal trafficking and subsequent lysosomal degradation of endocytic materials in macrophage cells. Together, this work reveals endosomal trafficking as a target of L. pneumophila and delineates the underlying molecular mechanism.
Author Summary
Legionella pneumophila is a pathogen bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease accompanied by severe pneumonia. Surprisingly, this pathogen invades and replicates inside macrophages, whose major function is to detect and destroy invading microorganisms. How L. pneumophila can be “immune” to this primary immune cell has been a focus of intensive research. Upon being engulfed by a macrophage cell, L. pneumophila translocates hundreds of bacterial proteins into this host cell. These proteins, called bacterial effectors, are thought to manipulate normal host cellular processes. However, which host molecules and how they are targeted by the bacterial effectors are largely unknown. In this study, we determined the three-dimensional structure of L. pneumophila effector protein VipD, whose function in macrophage was unknown. Ensuing analyses revealed that VipD selectively and tightly binds two host signaling proteins Rab5 and Rab22, which are key regulators of early endosomal vesicle trafficking. These interactions prevent the activated form of Rab5 and Rab22 from binding their downstream signaling proteins, resulting in the blockade of endosomal trafficking in macrophages. The presented work shows that L. pneumophila targets endosomal Rab proteins and delineates the underlying molecular mechanism, providing a new insight into the pathogen's strategies to dysregulate normal intracellular processes.
PMCID: PMC3521694  PMID: 23271971
5.  Deviant Expression of Rab5 on Phagosomes Containing the Intracellular Pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Legionella pneumophila Is Associated with Altered Phagosomal Fate 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(5):2671-2684.
The intracellular human pathogens Legionella pneumophila and Mycobacterium tuberculosis reside in altered phagosomes that do not fuse with lysosomes and are only mildly acidified. The L. pneumophila phagosome exists completely outside the endolysosomal pathway, and the M. tuberculosis phagosome displays a maturational arrest at an early endosomal stage along this pathway. Rab5 plays a critical role in regulating membrane trafficking involving endosomes and phagosomes. To determine whether an alteration in the function or delivery of Rab5 could play a role in the aberrant development of L. pneumophila and M. tuberculosis phagosomes, we have examined the distribution of the small GTPase, Rab5c, in infected HeLa cells overexpressing Rab5c. Both pathogens formed phagosomes in HeLa cells with molecular characteristics similar to their phagosomes in human macrophages and multiplied in these host cells. Phagosomes containing virulent wild-type L. pneumophila never acquired immunogold staining for Rab5c, whereas phagosomes containing an avirulent mutant L. pneumophila (which ultimately fused with lysosomes) transiently acquired staining for Rab5c after phagocytosis. In contrast, M. tuberculosis phagosomes exhibited abundant staining for Rab5c throughout its life cycle. To verify that the overexpressed, recombinant Rab5c observed on the bacterial phagosomes was biologically active, we examined the phagosomes in HeLa cells expressing Rab5c Q79L, a fusion-promoting mutant. Such HeLa cells formed giant vacuoles, and after incubation with various particles, the giant vacuoles acquired large numbers of latex beads, M. tuberculosis, and avirulent L. pneumophila but not wild-type L. pneumophila, which consistently remained in tight phagosomes that did not fuse with the giant vacuoles. These results indicate that whereas Rab5 is absent from wild-type L. pneumophila phagosomes, functional Rab5 persists on M. tuberculosis phagosomes. The absence of Rab5 on the L. pneumophila phagosome may underlie its lack of interaction with endocytic compartments. The persistence of functional Rab5 on the M. tuberculosis phagosomes may enable the phagosome to retard its own maturation at an early endosomal stage.
PMCID: PMC97474  PMID: 10768959
6.  RNAi screen of Salmonella invasion shows role of COPI in membrane targeting of cholesterol and Cdc42 
A genome wide RNAi screen identifies 72 host cell genes affecting S. Typhimurium entry, including actin regulators and COPI. This study implicates COPI-dependent cholesterol and sphingolipid localization as a common mechanism of infection by bacterial and viral pathogens.
Genome-scale RNAi screen identifies 72 host genes affecting S. Typhimurium host cell invasion.Step-specific follow-up assays assign the phenotypes to specific steps of the invasion process.COPI effects on host cell binding, ruffling and invasion were traced to a key role of COPI in membrane targeting of cholesterol, sphingolipids, Rac1 and Cdc42.This new role of COPI explains why COPI is required for host cell infection by numerous bacterial and viral pathogens.
Pathogens are not only a menace to public health, but they also provide excellent tools for probing host cell function. Thus, studying infection mechanisms has fueled progress in cell biology (Ridley et al, 1992; Welch et al, 1997). In the presented study, we have performed an RNAi screen to identify host cell genes required for Salmonella host cell invasion. This screen identified proteins known to contribute to Salmonella-induced actin rearrangements (e.g., Cdc42 and the Arp2/3 complex; reviewed in Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006) and vesicular traffic (e.g., Rab7) as well as unexpected hits, such as the COPI complex. COPI is a known organizer of Golgi-to-ER vesicle transport (Bethune et al, 2006; Beck et al, 2009). Here, we show that COPI is also involved in plasma membrane targeting of cholesterol, sphingolipids and the Rho GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1, essential host cell factors required for Salmonella invasion. This explains why COPI depletion inhibits infection by S. Typhimurium and illustrates how combining bacterial pathogenesis and systems approaches can promote cell biology.
Salmonella Typhimurium is a common food-borne pathogen and worldwide a major public health problem causing severe diarrhea. The pathogen uses the host's gut mucosa as a portal of entry and gut tissue invasion is a key event leading to the disease. This explains the intense interest from medicine and basic biology in the mechanism of Salmonella host cell invasion.
Tissue culture infection models have delineated a sequence of events leading host cell invasion (Figure 1; Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006): (i) pathogen binding to the host cell surface; (ii) activation of a syringe-like apparatus (‘Type III secretion system 1', T1) of the bacterium and injection of a bacterial toxin cocktail into the host cell. These toxins include SopE, a key virulence factor triggering invasion (Hardt et al, 1998), which was analyzed in our study; (iii) toxin-triggered membrane ruffling. To a significant extent, this is facilitated by SopE-triggered activation of Cdc42 and Rac1 and subsequent actin polymerization at the site of infection; (iv) engulfment of the pathogen within a vesicular compartment (SCV) and (v) maturation of the SCV, a process driven by a second Type III secretion system (T2), which is expressed by the pathogen upon bacterial entry (Figure 1). This sequence of events mediates Salmonella invasion into the gut epithelium and illustrates that this pathogen can be used for probing mechanisms of host cell actin control, membrane biogenesis, vesicle formation and vesicular trafficking.
SopE is a key virulence factor of invasion and triggers the activation of Cdc42 and Rac1 and subsequent actin polymerization at the site of infection. We have employed a SopE-expressing S. Typhimurium strain and RNAi screening technology to identify host cell factors affecting invasion. First, we developed an automated fluorescence microscopy assay to quantify S. Typhimurium entry in a high-throughput format (Figure 1C). This assay was based on a GFP reporter expressed by the pathogen after invasion and maturation of the SCV. Using this assay, we screened a ‘druggable genome' siRNA library (6978 genes, 3 oligos each, 1 oligo per well) and identified 72 invasion hits. These included established regulators of the actin cytoskeleton (Cdc42, Arp2/3, Nap1; Schlumberger and Hardt, 2006), some of which have not been implicated so far in Salmonella entry (Pfn1, Cap1), as well as proteins not previously thought to influence infection (Atp1a1, Rbx1, COPI complex). Potentially, these hits could affect any step of the invasion process (Figure 1A).
In the second stage of the study, we have assigned each ‘invasion hit' to particular steps of the invasion process. For this purpose, we developed step-specific assays for Salmonella binding, injection, ruffling and membrane engulfment and re-screened the genes found as hits in the first screen (four siRNAs per gene). As expected, a significant number of ‘hits' affected binding to the host cell, others affected binding and ruffling (e.g., Pfn1, Itgβ5, Cap1), a few were specific for the ruffling step (e.g., Cdc42) and some affected SCV maturation, namely Rab7a, the trafficking protein Vps39 and the vacuolar proton pump Atp6ap2. Thus, our experimental strategy allowed mechanistic interpretation and linked novel hits to particular phenotypes, thus providing a basis for further studies (Figure 1).
COPI depletion impaired effector injection and ruffling. This was surprising, as the COPI complex was known to regulate retrogade Golgi-to-ER transport, but was not expected to affect pathogen interactions at the plasma membrane. Therefore, we have investigated the underlying mechanism. We have observed that COPI depletion entailed dramatic changes in the plasma membrane composition (Figure 6). Cholesterol and sphingolipids, which form domains (‘lipid rafts') in the plasma membrane, were depleted from the cell surface and redirected into a large vesicular compartment. The same was true for the Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. This strong decrease in the amount of cholesterol-enriched microdomains and Rho GTPases in the plasma membrane explained the observed defects in S. Typhimurium host cell invasion and assigned a novel role for COPI in controlling mammalian plasma membrane composition. It should be noted that other viral and bacterial pathogens do show a similar dependency on host cellular COPI and plasma membrane lipids. This includes notorious pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus (Ramet et al, 2002; Potrich et al, 2009), Listeria monocytogenes (Seveau et al, 2004; Agaisse et al, 2005; Cheng et al, 2005; Gekara et al, 2005), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Munoz et al, 2009), Chlamydia trachomatis (Elwell et al, 2008), influenza virus (Hao et al, 2008; Konig et al, 2010), hepatitis C virus (Tai et al, 2009; Popescu and Dubuisson, 2010) and the vesicular stomatitis virus (presented study) and suggests that COPI-mediated control of host cell plasma membrane composition might be of broad importance for pathogenesis. Future work will have to address whether this might offer starting points for developing anti-infective therapeutics with a very broad spectrum of activity.
The pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium is a common cause of diarrhea and invades the gut tissue by injecting a cocktail of virulence factors into epithelial cells, triggering actin rearrangements, membrane ruffling and pathogen entry. One of these factors is SopE, a G-nucleotide exchange factor for the host cellular Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. How SopE mediates cellular invasion is incompletely understood. Using genome-scale RNAi screening we identified 72 known and novel host cell proteins affecting SopE-mediated entry. Follow-up assays assigned these ‘hits' to particular steps of the invasion process; i.e., binding, effector injection, membrane ruffling, membrane closure and maturation of the Salmonella-containing vacuole. Depletion of the COPI complex revealed a unique effect on virulence factor injection and membrane ruffling. Both effects are attributable to mislocalization of cholesterol, sphingolipids, Rac1 and Cdc42 away from the plasma membrane into a large intracellular compartment. Equivalent results were obtained with the vesicular stomatitis virus. Therefore, COPI-facilitated maintenance of lipids may represent a novel, unifying mechanism essential for a wide range of pathogens, offering opportunities for designing new drugs.
PMCID: PMC3094068  PMID: 21407211
coatomer; HeLa; Salmonella; siRNA; systems biology
7.  Legionella pneumophila Promotes Functional Interactions between Plasma Membrane Syntaxins and Sec22b 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2010;11(5):587-600.
Biogenesis of a specialized organelle that supports intracellular replication of Legionella pneumophila involves the fusion of secretory vesicles exiting the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) with phagosomes containing this bacterial pathogen. Here, we investigated host plasma membrane SNARE proteins to determine whether they play a role in trafficking of vacuoles containing L. pneumophila. Depletion of plasma membrane syntaxins by RNA interference resulted in delayed acquisition of the resident ER protein calnexin and enhanced retention of Rab1 on phagosomes containing virulent L. pneumophila, suggesting that these SNARE proteins are involved in vacuole biogenesis. Plasma membrane-localized SNARE proteins syntaxin 2, syntaxin 3, syntaxin4 and SNAP23 localized to vacuoles containing L. pneumophila. The ER-localized SNARE protein Sec22b was found to interact with plasma membrane SNAREs on vacuoles containing virulent L. pneumophila, but not on vacuoles containing avirulent mutants of L. pneumophila. The addition of α-SNAP and N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF) to the plasma membrane SNARE complexes formed by virulent L. pneumophila resulted in the dissociation of Sec22b, indicating functional pairing between these SNAREs. Thus, L. pneumophila stimulates the non-canonical pairing of plasma membrane t-SNAREs with the v-SNARE Sec22b to promote fusion of the phagosome with ER-derived vesicles. The mechanism by which L. pneumophila promotes pairing of plasma membrane syntaxins and Sec22b could provide unique insight into how the secretory vesicles could provide an additional membrane reserve subverted during phagosome maturation.
PMCID: PMC3164831  PMID: 20163564
endoplasmic reticulum; Dot/Icm system; Legionella pneumophila; membrane fusion; Sec22b; SNARE; syntaxin; vacuole
8.  Role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and Rab5 effectors in phagosomal biogenesis and mycobacterial phagosome maturation arrest 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(3):631-644.
Phagosomal biogenesis is a fundamental biological process of particular significance for the function of phagocytic and antigen-presenting cells. The precise mechanisms governing maturation of phagosomes into phagolysosomes are not completely understood. Here, we applied the property of pathogenic mycobacteria to cause phagosome maturation arrest in infected macrophages as a tool to dissect critical steps in phagosomal biogenesis. We report the requirement for 3-phosphoinositides and acquisition of Rab5 effector early endosome autoantigen (EEA1) as essential molecular events necessary for phagosomal maturation. Unlike the model phagosomes containing latex beads, which transiently recruited EEA1, mycobacterial phagosomes excluded this regulator of vesicular trafficking that controls membrane tethering and fusion processes within the endosomal pathway and is recruited to endosomal membranes via binding to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns[3]P). Inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3′(OH)-kinase (PI-3K) activity diminished EEA1 recruitment to newly formed latex bead phagosomes and blocked phagosomal acquisition of late endocytic properties, indicating that generation of PtdIns(3)P plays a role in phagosomal maturation. Microinjection into macrophages of antibodies against EEA1 and the PI-3K hVPS34 reduced acquisition of late endocytic markers by latex bead phagosomes, demonstrating an essential role of these Rab5 effectors in phagosomal biogenesis. The mechanism of EEA1 exclusion from mycobacterial phagosomes was investigated using mycobacterial products. Coating of latex beads with the major mycobacterial cell envelope glycosylated phosphatidylinositol lipoarabinomannan isolated from the virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv, inhibited recruitment of EEA1 to latex bead phagosomes, and diminished their maturation. These findings define the generation of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate and EEA1 recruitment as: (a) important regulatory events in phagosomal maturation and (b) critical molecular targets affected by M. tuberculosis. This study also identifies mycobacterial phosphoinositides as products with specialized toxic properties, interfering with discrete trafficking stages in phagosomal maturation.
PMCID: PMC2196432  PMID: 11489920
EEA1; endosome; hVPS34; LBPA; LAM
9.  Hypoexpression of major histocompatibility complex molecules on Legionella pneumophila phagosomes and phagolysosomes. 
Infection and Immunity  1993;61(7):2803-2812.
Legionella pneumophila is a facultative intracellular pathogen that parasitizes host mononuclear phagocytes. Cell-mediated immunity is pivotal to host defense against L. pneumophila, and the infected host cell may play a central role in processing and presenting parasite antigens to lymphocytes mediating cell-mediated immune response. However, in the case of L. pneumophila and intracellular parasites in general, little is known about the intracellular trafficking of parasite antigens, the influence of parasite infection on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) expression, or the relationship of MHC molecules to sites of parasite replication. To learn more about this, we have used flow cytometry to study the expression of HLA-DR by monocytes infected with L. pneumophila and cryosection immunogold electron microscopy to study the distribution of MHC class I and II molecules on L. pneumophila phagosomes. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated that L. pneumophila infection has little effect on the overall expression of HLA-DR by monocytes. Cryosection immunogold studies revealed abundant staining for MHC class I and II molecules on the plasma membrane of infected monocytes but little or no staining on the membranes of mature L. pneumophila phagosomes. Cryosection immunogold studies of an avirulent mutant of L. pneumophila that, unlike the wild type, does not inhibit phagosome-lysosome fusion and subsequently survives but does not multiply in a phagolysosome yielded similar results. We have previously found that MHC class I and II molecules are excluded from nascent phagosomes during coiling and conventional phagocytosis. The present work demonstrates that MHC molecules do not accumulate appreciably in the L. pneumophila phagosome as it matures and at a point in the life cycle of the organism in which it is replicating and producing immunoprotective T-cell antigens. This suggests that L. pneumophila does not reside in a typical endosomal compartment in the host cell and that L. pneumophila antigens may encounter MHC molecules at extraphagosomal sites within the host cell.
PMCID: PMC280924  PMID: 8514382
10.  Inhibition of Host Vacuolar H+-ATPase Activity by a Legionella pneumophila Effector 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(3):e1000822.
Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular pathogen responsible for Legionnaires' disease. This bacterium uses the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system to inject a large number of bacterial proteins into host cells to facilitate the biogenesis of a phagosome permissive for its intracellular growth. Like many highly adapted intravacuolar pathogens, L. pneumophila is able to maintain a neutral pH in the lumen of its phagosome, particularly in the early phase of infection. However, in all cases, the molecular mechanisms underlying this observation remain unknown. In this report, we describe the identification and characterization of a Legionella protein termed SidK that specifically targets host v-ATPase, the multi-subunit machinery primarily responsible for organelle acidification in eukaryotic cells. Our results indicate that after being injected into infected cells by the Dot/Icm secretion system, SidK interacts with VatA, a key component of the proton pump. Such binding leads to the inhibition of ATP hydrolysis and proton translocation. When delivered into macrophages, SidK inhibits vacuole acidification and impairs the ability of the cells to digest non-pathogenic E. coli. We also show that a domain located in the N-terminal portion of SidK is responsible for its interactions with VatA. Furthermore, expression of sidK is highly induced when bacteria begin to enter new growth cycle, correlating well with the potential temporal requirement of its activity during infection. Our results indicate that direct targeting of v-ATPase by secreted proteins constitutes a virulence strategy for L. pneumophila, a vacuolar pathogen of macrophages and amoebae.
Author Summary
One hallmark of the lysosome is a low luminal pH that is important for its maturation as well as the activity of many hydrolyzing enzymes responsible for efficient digestion of phagocytosed contents. To survive and replicate in phagocytes, successful intracellular pathogens have evolved various mechanisms to circumvent the challenges posed by lysosomal killing. One salient feature associated with infection of the intracellular bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila is the maintenance of a neutral pH of the Legionella containing vacuoles (LCVs) that supports its intracellular growth in the early phase of infection, while the nonpathogenic mutants are believed to be immediately trafficked to an acidic compartment. In eukaryotic cells, organelle acidification is mediated by the vacuolar H+-ATPase that translocates protons into target compartments in a process energized by ATP hydrolysis. The recent discovery of the association of v-ATPase with LCVs points to the necessity for active modulation of v-ATPase activity by the bacterium. By screening L. pneumophila proteins that cause a yeast phenotype similar to its v-ATPase mutants, we have identified a substrate of the L. pneumophila Dot/Icm type IV secretion system that specifically inhibits the activity of the proton transporter. This protein, termed SidK, inhibits the activity of v-ATPase by directly interacting with the VatA subunit that is responsible for hydrolyzing ATP. Moreover, macrophages harboring SidK display defects in phagosomal acidification and lysosomal killing of non-pathogenic bacteria. We also found that expression of sidK is highly induced right after stationary bacteria are diluted into fresh medium, suggesting that SidK plays an important role in the early phase of infection. Our results reveal a mechanism by which an intravacuolar pathogen engages the v-ATPase protein and inhibits its activity, rather than actively avoiding its association with the pathogen's vacuolar membrane.
PMCID: PMC2841630  PMID: 20333253
11.  Actin-dependent mechanisms in AMPA receptor trafficking 
The precise regulation of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) number and subtype at the synapse is crucial for the regulation of excitatory neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity and the consequent formation of appropriate neural circuits for learning and memory. AMPAR trafficking involves the dynamic processes of exocytosis, endocytosis and endosomal recycling, all of which involve the actin cytoskeleton. The actin cytoskeleton is highly dynamic and highly regulated by an abundance of actin-binding proteins and upstream signaling pathways that modulate actin polymerization and depolymerization. Actin dynamics generate forces that manipulate membranes in the process of vesicle biogenesis, and also for propelling vesicles through the cytoplasm to reach their destination. In addition, trafficking mechanisms exploit more stable aspects of the actin cytoskeleton by using actin-based motor proteins to traffic vesicular cargo along actin filaments. Numerous studies have shown that actin dynamics are critical for AMPAR localization and function. The identification of actin-binding proteins that physically interact with AMPAR subunits, and research into their mode of action is starting to shed light on the mechanisms involved. Such proteins either regulate actin dynamics to modulate mechanical forces exerted on AMPAR-containing membranes, or associate with actin filaments to target or transport AMPAR-containing vesicles to specific subcellular regions. In addition, actin-regulatory proteins that do not physically interact with AMPARs may influence AMPAR trafficking by regulating the local actin environment in the dendritic spine.
PMCID: PMC4228833  PMID: 25429259
synaptic plasticity (LTP/LTD); endocytosis; exocytosis; glutamate receptor; dendritic spine
12.  Enterohemorrhagic E. coli Requires N-WASP for Efficient Type III Translocation but Not for EspFU-Mediated Actin Pedestal Formation 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(8):e1001056.
Upon infection of mammalian cells, enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7 utilizes a type III secretion system to translocate the effectors Tir and EspFU (aka TccP) that trigger the formation of F-actin-rich ‘pedestals’ beneath bound bacteria. EspFU is localized to the plasma membrane by Tir and binds the nucleation-promoting factor N-WASP, which in turn activates the Arp2/3 actin assembly complex. Although N-WASP has been shown to be required for EHEC pedestal formation, the precise steps in the process that it influences have not been determined. We found that N-WASP and actin assembly promote EHEC-mediated translocation of Tir and EspFU into mammalian host cells. When we utilized the related pathogen enteropathogenic E. coli to enhance type III translocation of EHEC Tir and EspFU, we found surprisingly that actin pedestals were generated on N-WASP-deficient cells. Similar to pedestal formation on wild type cells, Tir and EspFU were the only bacterial effectors required for pedestal formation, and the EspFU sequences required to interact with N-WASP were found to also be essential to stimulate this alternate actin assembly pathway. In the absence of N-WASP, the Arp2/3 complex was both recruited to sites of bacterial attachment and required for actin assembly. Our results indicate that actin assembly facilitates type III translocation, and reveal that EspFU, presumably by recruiting an alternate host factor that can signal to the Arp2/3 complex, exhibits remarkable versatility in its strategies for stimulating actin polymerization.
Author Summary
The food-borne pathogen enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O157:H7 can cause severe diarrhoea and life-threatening systemic illnesses. During infection, EHEC attaches to cells lining the human intestine and injects Tir and EspFU, two bacterial molecules that alter the host cell actin cytoskeleton and stimulate the formation of “pedestals” just beneath bound bacteria. Pedestal formation promotes colonization during the later stages of infection. N-WASP, a host protein known to regulate actin assembly in mammalian cells, was previously shown to be manipulated by Tir and EspFU to stimulate actin assembly, and to be required for EHEC to generate actin pedestals. Surprisingly, we show here that N-WASP promotes the efficient delivery of Tir and EspFU into mammalian cells, and that when we utilized a related E. coli to enhance type III delivery of Tir and EspFU, actin pedestals assembled even in its absence. Thus, EHEC stimulates at least two pathways of actin assembly to generate pedestals, one mediated by N-WASP and one by an unidentified alternate factor. This flexibility likely reflects an important function of pedestal formation by EHEC, and study of the underlying mechanisms may provide new insights into the pathogenesis of infection as well as the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton of mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC2924363  PMID: 20808845
13.  The Plant Actin Cytoskeleton Responds to Signals from Microbe-Associated Molecular Patterns 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003290.
Plants are constantly exposed to a large and diverse array of microbes; however, most plants are immune to the majority of potential invaders and susceptible to only a small subset of pathogens. The cytoskeleton comprises a dynamic intracellular framework that responds rapidly to biotic stresses and supports numerous fundamental cellular processes including vesicle trafficking, endocytosis and the spatial distribution of organelles and protein complexes. For years, the actin cytoskeleton has been assumed to play a role in plant innate immunity against fungi and oomycetes, based largely on static images and pharmacological studies. To date, however, there is little evidence that the host-cell actin cytoskeleton participates in responses to phytopathogenic bacteria. Here, we quantified the spatiotemporal changes in host-cell cytoskeletal architecture during the immune response to pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Two distinct changes to host cytoskeletal arrays were observed that correspond to distinct phases of plant-bacterial interactions i.e. the perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) during pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) and perturbations by effector proteins during effector-triggered susceptibility (ETS). We demonstrate that an immediate increase in actin filament abundance is a conserved and novel component of PTI. Notably, treatment of leaves with a MAMP peptide mimic was sufficient to elicit a rapid change in actin organization in epidermal cells, and this actin response required the host-cell MAMP receptor kinase complex, including FLS2, BAK1 and BIK1. Finally, we found that actin polymerization is necessary for the increase in actin filament density and that blocking this increase with the actin-disrupting drug latrunculin B leads to enhanced susceptibility of host plants to pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria.
Author Summary
The cytoskeleton is a dynamic platform for sensing and responding to a diverse array of biotic and abiotic stresses. The nature and timing of the changes in actin organization range from excessive bundling, to massive depolymerization, to new filament assembly, depending on the particular signal and the responding cell type. Here, we use the Arabidopsis–Pseudomonas pathosystem to dissect pathogen-derived cues that elicit changes in the plant host-cell cytoskeleton. Overall, we provide the first evidence that the actin cytoskeleton rearranges in response to a phytopathogenic bacterium and we quantified the temporal response of epidermal cells to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 strains and susceptible Arabidopsis mutants, using a robust set of tools for measuring changes in actin organization. An immediate but transient increase in actin filament abundance was associated with pattern-triggered immunity. This response could be mimicked with microbe-associated molecular pattern peptide treatments. Second, we observed a late increase in actin filament bundling that appears to be part of effector-triggered susceptibility. We dissected the initial steps involved in the host-cell signaling pathway and demonstrated that FLS2, BAK1, and BIK1 were required for the actin response. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that rapid changes in host-cell cytoskeleton organization occur in response to receptor-mediated signaling during plant innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3616984  PMID: 23593000
14.  Repetitive N-WASP–Binding Elements of the Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli Effector EspFU Synergistically Activate Actin Assembly 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(10):e1000191.
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) generate F-actin–rich adhesion pedestals by delivering effector proteins into mammalian cells. These effectors include the translocated receptor Tir, along with EspFU, a protein that associates indirectly with Tir and contains multiple peptide repeats that stimulate actin polymerization. In vitro, the EspFU repeat region is capable of binding and activating recombinant derivatives of N-WASP, a host actin nucleation-promoting factor. In spite of the identification of these important bacterial and host factors, the underlying mechanisms of how EHEC so potently exploits the native actin assembly machinery have not been clearly defined. Here we show that Tir and EspFU are sufficient for actin pedestal formation in cultured cells. Experimental clustering of Tir-EspFU fusion proteins indicates that the central role of the cytoplasmic portion of Tir is to promote clustering of the repeat region of EspFU. Whereas clustering of a single EspFU repeat is sufficient to bind N-WASP and generate pedestals on cultured cells, multi-repeat EspFU derivatives promote actin assembly more efficiently. Moreover, the EspFU repeats activate a protein complex containing N-WASP and the actin-binding protein WIP in a synergistic fashion in vitro, further suggesting that the repeats cooperate to stimulate actin polymerization in vivo. One explanation for repeat synergy is that simultaneous engagement of multiple N-WASP molecules can enhance its ability to interact with the actin nucleating Arp2/3 complex. These findings define the minimal set of bacterial effectors required for pedestal formation and the elements within those effectors that contribute to actin assembly via N-WASP-Arp2/3–mediated signaling pathways.
Author Summary
Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is a food-borne pathogen that causes diarrhea and life-threatening systemic illnesses. EHEC colonizes the intestine by adhering tightly to host cells and injecting bacterial molecules that trigger the formation of a “pedestal” below bound bacteria. These pedestals are generated by reorganizing the actin cytoskeleton into densely packed filaments beneath the plasma membrane. Pedestal formation is therefore not only important for EHEC disease, it provides a means to study how mammalian cells control their shape. We show here that two EHEC proteins, Tir and EspFU, are sufficient to trigger pedestal formation. Tir localizes to the mammalian plasma membrane, and its central function is to promote clustering of EspFU. EspFU contains multiple repeat sequences that stimulate actin polymerization by binding N-WASP, a host protein that initiates actin assembly. Although a single repeat of EspFU can generate pedestals, multi-repeat variants promote actin assembly cooperatively. One explanation for this synergy is that tandem repeats can potently trigger the formation of a complex of mammalian proteins that modulate the actin cytoskeleton. These findings define the minimal set of EHEC effectors required for pedestal formation and the elements within those effectors that confer their ability to alter cell shape.
PMCID: PMC2567903  PMID: 18974829
15.  The Legionella pneumophila Effector Protein, LegC7, Alters Yeast Endosomal Trafficking 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116824.
The intracellular pathogen, Legionella pneumophila, relies on numerous secreted effector proteins to manipulate host endomembrane trafficking events during pathogenesis, thereby preventing fusion of the bacteria-laden phagosome with host endolysosomal compartments, and thus escaping degradation. Upon expression in the surrogate eukaryotic model Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we find that the L. pneumophila LegC7/YlfA effector protein disrupts the delivery of both biosynthetic and endocytic cargo to the yeast vacuole. We demonstrate that the effects of LegC7 are specific to the endosome:vacuole delivery pathways; LegC7 expression does not disrupt other known vacuole-directed pathways. Deletions of the ESCRT-0 complex member, VPS27, provide resistance to the LegC7 toxicity, providing a possible target for LegC7 function in vivo. Furthermore, a single amino acid substitution in LegC7 abrogates both its toxicity and ability to alter endosomal traffic in vivo, thereby identifying a critical functional domain. LegC7 likely inhibits endosomal trafficking during L. pneumophila pathogenesis to prevent entry of the phagosome into the endosomal maturation pathway and eventual fusion with the lysosome.
PMCID: PMC4314205  PMID: 25643265
16.  RNA Interference and Single Particle Tracking Analysis of Hepatitis C Virus Endocytosis 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(12):e1000702.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) enters hepatocytes following a complex set of receptor interactions, culminating in internalization via clathrin-mediated endocytosis. However, aside from receptors, little is known about the cellular molecular requirements for infectious HCV entry. Therefore, we analyzed a siRNA library that targets 140 cellular membrane trafficking genes to identify host genes required for infectious HCV production and HCV pseudoparticle entry. This approach identified 16 host cofactors of HCV entry that function primarily in clathrin-mediated endocytosis, including components of the clathrin endocytosis machinery, actin polymerization, receptor internalization and sorting, and endosomal acidification. We next developed single particle tracking analysis of highly infectious fluorescent HCV particles to examine the co-trafficking of HCV virions with cellular cofactors of endocytosis. We observe multiple, sequential interactions of HCV virions with the actin cytoskeleton, including retraction along filopodia, actin nucleation during internalization, and migration of internalized particles along actin stress fibers. HCV co-localizes with clathrin and the ubiquitin ligase c-Cbl prior to internalization. Entering HCV particles are associated with the receptor molecules CD81 and the tight junction protein, claudin-1; however, HCV-claudin-1 interactions were not restricted to Huh-7.5 cell-cell junctions. Surprisingly, HCV internalization generally occurred outside of Huh-7.5 cell-cell junctions, which may reflect the poorly polarized nature of current HCV cell culture models. Following internalization, HCV particles transport with GFP-Rab5a positive endosomes, which is consistent with trafficking to the early endosome. This study presents technical advances for imaging HCV entry, in addition to identifying new host cofactors of HCV infection, some of which may be antiviral targets.
Author Summary
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronically infects 130 million people and is a major cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The current antiviral therapy of pegylated interferon-2 alfa + ribavirin is successful in only half of treated patients. This has led to an intensive effort to design improved therapeutic strategies. The identification of cellular cofactors of HCV infection greatly expands the pool of potential targets for drug design. In this paper, we combine RNA interference analysis of HCV endocytosis with the development of live cell imaging of highly infectious HCV particles. We identify 16 host cofactors of HCV entry, most of which function in sequential stages of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. We observe the trafficking of fluorescent HCV particles with these cellular cofactors and their related pathways, including the actin cytoskeleton, known receptors CD81 and the tight junction protein claudin-1, clathrin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, and early endosomes. Surprisingly, given the role of tight junction proteins as HCV entry factors, virion entry generally occurred outside of cell-cell junctions. This paper identifies novel host targets for therapeutic development, describes techniques to image HCV entry, and provides insights into HCV-cell interactions in the entry process.
PMCID: PMC2790617  PMID: 20041214
17.  Legionella pneumophila Catalase-Peroxidases Are Required for Proper Trafficking and Growth in Primary Macrophages  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(8):4526-4535.
Legionella pneumophila, a parasite of aquatic amoebae and pathogen of pulmonary macrophages, replicates intracellularly, utilizing a type IV secretion system to subvert the trafficking of Legionella-containing phagosomes. Defense against host-derived reactive oxygen species has been proposed as critical for intracellular replication. Virulence traits of null mutants in katA and katB, encoding the two Legionella catalase-peroxidases, were analyzed to evaluate the hypothesis that L. pneumophila must decompose hydrogen peroxide to establish a replication niche in macrophages. Phagosomes containing katA or katB mutant Legionella colocalize with LAMP-1, a late endosomal-lysosomal marker, at twice the frequency of those of wild-type strain JR32 and show a decreased frequency of bacterial replication, in similarity to phenotypes of mutants with mutations in dotA and dotB, encoding components of the Type IV secretion system. Quantitative similarity of the katA/B phenotypes indicates that each contributes to virulence traits largely independently of intracellular compartmentalization (KatA in the periplasm and KatB in the cytosol). These data support a model in which KatA and KatB maintain a critically low level of H2O2 compatible with proper phagosome trafficking mediated by the type IV secretion apparatus. During these studies, we observed that dotA and dotB mutations in wild-type strain Lp02 had no effect on intracellular multiplication in the amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii, indicating that certain dotA/B functions in Lp02 are dispensable in that experimental model. We also observed that wild-type JR32, unlike Lp02, shows minimal contact-dependent cytotoxicity, suggesting that cytotoxicity of JR32 is not a prerequisite for formation of replication-competent Legionella phagosomes in macrophages.
PMCID: PMC166045  PMID: 12874332
18.  Molecular characterization of the evolution of phagosomes 
First large-scale comparative proteomics/phosphoproteomics study characterizing some of the key steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes that occurred during evolution. Comparison of profiling analyses of isolated phagosomes from three distant organisms (Dictyostelium, Drosophila, and mouse) revealed a protein core that defines a potential ‘ancient' phagosome and a set of 50 proteins that emerged while adaptive immunity was already well established.Gene duplication events of mouse phagosome paralogs occurred mostly in Bilateria and Euteleostomi, coinciding with the emergence of innate and adaptive immunity, and thus, provided the functional innovations needed for the establishment of these two crucial evolutionary steps of the immune system.Phosphoproteomics of isolated phagosomes from the same three distant species indicate that the phagosome phosphoproteome has been extensively modified during evolution. Still, some phosphosites have been maintained for >1.2 billion years, and thus, highlight their particular significance in the regulation of key phagosomal functions.
Phagocytosis is the process by which multiple cell types internalize large particulate material from the external milieu. The functional properties of phagosomes are acquired through a complex maturation process, referred to as phagolysosome biogenesis. This pathway involves a series of rapid interactions with organelles of the endocytic apparatus, enabling the gradual transformation of newly formed phagosomes into phagolysosomes in which proteolytic degradation occurs. The degradative environment encountered in the phagosome lumen has enabled the use of phagocytosis as a predation mechanism for feeding (phagotrophy) in amoeba, whereas multicellular organisms utilize this process as a defense mechanism to kill microbes and, in jawed vertebrates (fish), initiate a sustained immune response.
High-throughput proteomics profiling of isolated phagosomes has been tremendously helpful for the molecular comprehension of this organelle. This approach is achieved by feeding low buoyancy latex beads to phagocytic cells, enabling the subsequent isolation of latex bead-containing phagosomes, away from all the other cell organelles, by a single-isopicnic centrifugation in sucrose gradient. In order to characterize some of the key steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes during evolution, we isolated this organelle from three distant organisms: the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and mouse (Mus musculus) that use phagocytosis for different purposes, and performed detailed proteomics and phosphoproteomics analyses with unparallel protein coverage for this organelle (two- to four-fold enhancements in identified proteins).
In order to establish the origin of the mouse phagosome proteome, we performed comparative analyses among 39 taxa including plants/algea, unicellular organisms, fungi, and more complex animal multicellular organisms. These genomic comparisons indicated that a large proportion of the mouse phagosome proteome is of ancient origin (73.1% of the proteome is conserved in eukaryotic organisms) (Figure 2A). This stresses the fact that phagocytosis is a very ancient process, as shown by its possible involvement in the emergence of eukaryotic cells (eukaryogenesis). Indeed, we identified close to 300 phagosome mouse proteins also present on Drosophila and Dictyostelium phagosomes, defining a potential ‘ancient' core of proteins from which the immune functions of phagosomes likely evolved. Around 16.7% of the mouse phagosome proteins appeared in organisms that use phagocytosis for innate immunity (Bilateria to Chordata), whereas 10.2% appeared in Euteleostomi or Tetrapoda where phagosomes have an important function in linking the killing of microorganisms with the development of a specific sustained immune response following antigen recognition. The phagosome is made of molecules taken from a variety of sources within the cell, including the cytoplasm, the cytoskeleton and membrane organelles. Despite the evolution and diversification of these various cellular systems, the mammalian phagosome proteome is made preferentially of ancient proteins (Figure 2B). Comparison of functional annotation during evolution highlighted the emergence of specific phagosomal functions at various steps during evolution (Figure 2C). Some of these proteins and their point of origin during evolution are highlighted in Figure 2D. Strikingly, we identified in Tetrapods a set of 50 proteins that arose while adaptive immunity was already well established in teleosts (fish), indicating that the phagocytic system is still evolving.
Our study highlights the fact that the functional properties of phagosomes emerged by the remodeling of ancient molecules, the addition of novel components, and the duplication of existing proteins (paralogs) leading to the formation of molecular machines of mixed origin. Gene duplication is a process that contributed continuously to the complexification of the mouse proteome during evolution. In sharp contrast, paralog analysis indicated that the phagosome proteome was mainly reorganized through two periods of gene duplication, in Bilateria and Euteleostomi, coinciding with the emergence of adaptive immunity (in jawed fish), and innate immunity (at the split between Metazoa and Bilateria). These results strongly suggest that selective constraints may have favored the maintenance of phagosome paralogs to ensure the establishment of novel functions associated with this organelle at these two crucial evolutionary steps of the immune system.
The emergence of genes associated to the MHC locus in mammals that appeared originally in the genome of jawed fishes, contributed to the development of complex molecular mechanisms linking innate (our immune system that defends the host from infection in a non-specific manner) and adaptive immunity (the part of the immune system triggered specifically after antigen recognition). Several of the genes of this locus encode proteins known to have important functions in antigen presentation, such as subunits of the immunoproteasome (LMP2 and LMP7), MHC class I and class II molecules, as well as tapasin and the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP1 and TAP2), involved in the transport and loading of peptides on MHC class I molecules (Figure 6). In addition to their ability to present peptides on MHC class II molecules, phagosomes of vertebrates have been shown to be competent for the presentation of exogenous peptides on MHC class I molecules, a process referred to as cross-presentation. From a functional point of view, the involvement of phagosomes in antigen cross-presentation is the outcome of the successful integration of a wide range of multimolecular components that emerged throughout evolution (Figure 6). The trimming of exogenous proteins into small peptides that can be loaded on MHC class I molecules is inherited from the phagotrophic properties of unicellular organisms, where internalized bacteria are degraded into basic molecules and used as a source of nutrients. Ancient processes have therefore been co-opted (the use of an existing biological structure or feature for a new function) for new functionalities. A summarizing model of the various steps that enabled phagosome antigen presentation is presented in Figure 6. This model highlights the fact that although antigen presentation is unique to evolutionary recent phagosomes (starting in jawed fishes about 450 million years ago), it uses and integrates molecular machines composed of proteins that emerged throughout evolution.
In summary, we present here the first large-scale comparative proteomics/phosphoproteomics study characterizing some of the key evolutionary steps that contributed to the remodeling of phagosomes during evolution. Functional properties of this organelle emerged by the remodeling of ancient molecules, the addition of novel components, the extensive adaption of protein phosphorylation sites and the duplication of existing proteins leading to the formation of molecular machines of mixed origin.
Amoeba use phagocytosis to internalize bacteria as a source of nutrients, whereas multicellular organisms utilize this process as a defense mechanism to kill microbes and, in vertebrates, initiate a sustained immune response. By using a large-scale approach to identify and compare the proteome and phosphoproteome of phagosomes isolated from distant organisms, and by comparative analysis over 39 taxa, we identified an ‘ancient' core of phagosomal proteins around which the immune functions of this organelle have likely organized. Our data indicate that a larger proportion of the phagosome proteome, compared with the whole cell proteome, has been acquired through gene duplication at a period coinciding with the emergence of innate and adaptive immunity. Our study also characterizes in detail the acquisition of novel proteins and the significant remodeling of the phagosome phosphoproteome that contributed to modify the core constituents of this organelle in evolution. Our work thus provides the first thorough analysis of the changes that enabled the transformation of the phagosome from a phagotrophic compartment into an organelle fully competent for antigen presentation.
PMCID: PMC2990642  PMID: 20959821
evolution; immunity; phosphoproteomics; phylogeny; proteomics
19.  Actin Recruitment to the Chlamydia Inclusion Is Spatiotemporally Regulated by a Mechanism That Requires Host and Bacterial Factors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46949.
The ability to exit host cells at the end of their developmental growth is a critical step for the intracellular bacterium Chlamydia. One exit strategy, extrusion, is mediated by host signaling pathways involved with actin polymerization. Here, we show that actin is recruited to the chlamydial inclusion as a late event, occurring after 20 hours post-infection (hpi) and only within a subpopulation of cells. This event increases significantly in prevalence and extent from 20 to 68 hpi, and actin coats strongly correlated with extrusions. In contrast to what has been reported for other intracellular pathogens, actin nucleation on Chlamydia inclusions did not ‘flash’, but rather exhibited moderate depolymerization dynamics. By using small molecule agents to selectively disrupt host signaling pathways involved with actin nucleation, modulate actin polymerization dynamics and also to disable the synthesis and secretion of chlamydial proteins, we further show that host and bacterial proteins are required for actin coat formation. Transient disruption of either host or bacterial signaling pathways resulted in rapid loss of coats in all infected cells and a reduction in extrusion formation. Inhibition of Chlamydia type III secretion also resulted in rapid loss of actin association on inclusions, thus implicating chlamydial effector proteins(s) as being central factors for engaging with host actin nucleating factors, such as formins. In conclusion, our data illuminate the host and bacterial driven process by which a dense actin matrix is dynamically nucleated and maintained on the Chlamydia inclusion. This late stage event is not ubiquitous for all infected cells in a population, and escalates in prevalence and extent throughout the developmental cycle of Chlamydia, culminating with their exit from the host cell by extrusion. The initiation of actin recruitment by Chlamydia appears to be novel, and may serve as an upstream determinant of the extrusion mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3469565  PMID: 23071671
20.  HopW1 from Pseudomonas syringae Disrupts the Actin Cytoskeleton to Promote Virulence in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004232.
A central mechanism of virulence of extracellular bacterial pathogens is the injection into host cells of effector proteins that modify host cellular functions. HopW1 is an effector injected by the type III secretion system that increases the growth of the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae on the Columbia accession of Arabidopsis. When delivered by P. syringae into plant cells, HopW1 causes a reduction in the filamentous actin (F-actin) network and the inhibition of endocytosis, a known actin-dependent process. When directly produced in plants, HopW1 forms complexes with actin, disrupts the actin cytoskeleton and inhibits endocytosis as well as the trafficking of certain proteins to vacuoles. The C-terminal region of HopW1 can reduce the length of actin filaments and therefore solubilize F-actin in vitro. Thus, HopW1 acts by disrupting the actin cytoskeleton and the cell biological processes that depend on actin, which in turn are needed for restricting P. syringae growth in Arabidopsis.
Author Summary
Eukaryotic cells require a dynamic actin cytoskeleton for basic functions, some of which are important for immune responses. Such functions include the transport of cellular material to and from different cellular compartments. The plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae is extracellular and causes disease by injecting effector proteins into plant cells. One of these effectors is HopW1, which disrupts the actin cytoskeleton and reduces the transport of vesicles from the cell surface and proteins destined for vacuoles. The effects of HopW1 can be mimicked using a drug that inhibits actin polymerization. Thus, this work establishes a direct mechanism for pathogen disruption of the actin cytoskeleton and implicates actin-dependent events as important for controlling pathogen growth during infection.
PMCID: PMC4072799  PMID: 24968323
21.  Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis in Living Host Cells Visualized through Quantum Dot Labeling of Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus▿† 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(13):6252-6262.
Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is an important fish pathogen that infects both wild and cultured salmonids. As a species of the genus Novirhabdovirus, IHNV is a valuable model system for exploring the host entry mechanisms of rhabdoviruses. In this study, quantum dots (QDs) were used as fluorescent labels for sensitive, long-term tracking of IHNV entry. Using live-cell fluorescence microscopy, we found that IHNV is internalized through clathrin-coated pits after the virus binds to host cell membranes. Pretreatment of host cells with chlorpromazine, a drug that blocks clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and clathrin light chain (LCa) depletion using RNA interference both resulted in a marked reduction in viral entry. We also visualized transport of the virus via the cytoskeleton (i.e., actin filaments and microtubules) in real time. Actin polymerization is involved in the transport of endocytic vesicles into the cytosol, whereas microtubules are required for the trafficking of clathrin-coated vesicles to early endosomes, late endosomes, and lysosomes. Disrupting the host cell cytoskeleton with cytochalasin D or nocodazole significantly impaired IHNV infectivity. Furthermore, infection was significantly affected by pretreating the host cells with bafilomycin A1, a compound that inhibits the acidification of endosomes and lysosomes. Strong colocalizations of IHNV with endosomes indicated that the virus is internalized into these membrane-bound compartments. This is the first report in which QD labeling is used to visualize the dynamic interactions between viruses and endocytic structures; the results presented demonstrate that IHNV enters host cells via clathrin-mediated endocytic, cytoskeleton-dependent, and low-pH-dependent pathways.
PMCID: PMC3126507  PMID: 21525360
22.  A Genetic Screen for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mutants Defective for Phagosome Maturation Arrest Identifies Components of the ESX-1 Secretion System▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(6):2668-2678.
After phagocytosis, the intracellular pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis arrests the progression of the nascent phagosome into a phagolysosome, allowing for replication in a compartment that resembles early endosomes. To better understand the molecular mechanisms that govern phagosome maturation arrest, we performed a visual screen on a set of M. tuberculosis mutants specifically attenuated for growth in mice to identify strains that failed to arrest phagosome maturation and trafficked to late phagosomal compartments. We identified 10 such mutants that could be partitioned into two classes based on the kinetics of trafficking. Importantly, four of these mutants harbor mutations in genes that encode components of the ESX-1 secretion system, a pathway critical for M. tuberculosis virulence. Although ESX-1 is required, the known ESX-1 secreted proteins are dispensable for phagosome maturation arrest, suggesting that a novel effector required for phagosome maturation arrest is secreted by ESX-1. Other mutants identified in this screen had mutations in genes involved in lipid synthesis and secretion and in molybdopterin biosynthesis, as well as in genes with unknown functions. Most of these trafficking mutants exhibited a corresponding growth defect during macrophage infection, but two mutants grew like wild-type M. tuberculosis during macrophage infection. Our results support the emerging consensus that multiple factors from M. tuberculosis, including the ESX-1 secretion system, are involved in modulating trafficking within the host.
PMCID: PMC1932882  PMID: 17353284
23.  Legionella pneumophila Replication Vacuoles Mature into Acidic, Endocytic Organelles 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2000;192(9):1261-1272.
After ingestion by macrophages, Legionella pneumophila inhibits acidification and maturation of its phagosome. After a 6–10-h lag period, the bacteria replicate for 10–14 h until macrophage lysis releases dozens of progeny. To examine whether the growth phase of intracellular L. pneumophila determines the fate of its phagosome, interactions between the endosomal network and pathogen vacuoles were analyzed throughout the primary infection period. Surprisingly, as L. pneumophila replicated exponentially, a significant proportion of the vacuoles acquired lysosomal characteristics. By 18 h, 70% contained lysosomal-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP-1) and 40% contained cathepsin D; 50% of the vacuoles could be labeled by endocytosis, and the pH of this population of vacuoles averaged 5.6. Moreover, L. pneumophila appeared to survive and replicate within lysosomal compartments: vacuoles harboring more than five bacteria also contained LAMP-1, inhibition of vacuole acidification and maturation by bafilomycin A1 inhibited bacterial replication, bacteria within endosomal vacuoles responded to a metabolic inducer by expressing a gfp reporter gene, and replicating bacteria obtained from macrophages, but not broth, were acid resistant. Understanding how L. pneumophila first evades and then exploits the endosomal pathway to replicate within macrophages may reveal the mechanisms governing phagosome maturation, a process also manipulated by Mycobacteria, Leishmania, and Coxiella.
PMCID: PMC2193360  PMID: 11067875
pathogenesis; autophagy; phagosomes; lysosomes; macrophages
24.  Legionella Eukaryotic-Like Type IV Substrates Interfere with Organelle Trafficking 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(8):e1000117.
Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, evades phago-lysosome fusion in mammalian and protozoan hosts to create a suitable niche for intracellular replication. To modulate vesicle trafficking pathways, L. pneumophila translocates effector proteins into eukaryotic cells through a Type IVB macro-molecular transport system called the Icm-Dot system. In this study, we employed a fluorescence-based translocation assay to show that 33 previously identified Legionella eukaryotic-like genes (leg) encode substrates of the Icm-Dot secretion system. To assess which of these proteins may contribute to the disruption of vesicle trafficking, we expressed each gene in yeast and looked for phenotypes related to vacuolar protein sorting. We found that LegC3-GFP and LegC7/YlfA-GFP caused the mis-secretion of CPY-Invertase, a fusion protein normally restricted to the yeast vacuole. We also found that LegC7/YlfA-GFP and its paralog LegC2/YlfB-GFP formed large structures around the yeast vacuole while LegC3-GFP localized to the plasma membrane and a fragmented vacuole. In mammalian cells, LegC2/YlfB-GFP and LegC7/YlfA-GFP were found within large structures that co-localized with anti-KDEL antibodies but excluded the lysosomal marker LAMP-1, similar to what is observed in Legionella-containing vacuoles. LegC3-GFP, in contrast, was observed as smaller structures which had no obvious co-localization with KDEL or LAMP-1. Finally, LegC3-GFP caused the accumulation of many endosome-like structures containing undigested material when expressed in the protozoan host Dictyostelium discoideum. Our results demonstrate that multiple Leg proteins are Icm/Dot-dependent substrates and that LegC3, LegC7/YlfA, and LegC2/YlfB may contribute to the intracellular trafficking of L. pneumophila by interfering with highly conserved pathways that modulate vesicle maturation.
Author Summary
Legionella pneumophila is a Gram-negative bacterial species that causes a severe pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease. Inhalation of L. pneumophila–contaminated aerosols results in the infection of lung macrophages. Following infection, the bacteria use a Type IVB secretion system to deliver multiple effector proteins into the macrophages to create a membrane-bound replicative compartment called the Legionella-containing vacuole, or LCV. The LCV is defined by its recruitment of early secretory vesicles and avoidance of the bactericidal lysosomes. We identified several effector proteins that contain eukaryotic domains and share significant homology with eukaryotic organelle trafficking proteins. We demonstrate that 33 Legionella eukaryotic-like genes (leg) encode proteins that are translocated into host cells. When artificially expressed in yeast, three Leg proteins (LegC2, LegC3, and LegC7) were able to disrupt normal vesicle trafficking and vacuole morphology. In addition, the Leg proteins induced the formation of, and were localized within, distinct structures when expressed in mammalian cells. In the protozoan host Dictyostelium discoideum, expression of LegC3 resulted in the accumulation of membranous compartments containing partially digested material. Thus, LegC3, LegC2, and LegC7 represent novel effector proteins that may contribute to the intracellular lifestyle of L. pneumophila by disrupting normal vacuolar trafficking pathways in host cells.
PMCID: PMC2475511  PMID: 18670632
25.  Autophagy, an immunologic magic bullet: Mycobacterium tuberculosis phagosome maturation block and how to bypass it 
Future microbiology  2008;3(5):517-524.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a facultative intracellular pathogen that parasitizes host macrophages where it persists in immature phagosomes by avoiding their maturation into phagolysosomes. The mechanisms of how M. tuberculosis inhibits phagolysosome biogenesis have been researched in detail and the maturation block at least partially depends on the manipulation of host phosphoinositide interconversions, with phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI3P) being a central target since it has been shown to be required for phagolysosome biogenesis. PI3P earmarks intracellular organelles for binding and assembly of effector molecules that interact with PI3P or its derivatives, including Class E Vps proteins such as Hrs and ESCRT components, early endosome antigen 1, which are required for sequential protein and membrane sorting within the endosomal and, by extension, phagosomal systems. In a search of a cellular mechanism that can bypass the tubercule bacillus-imposed PI3P block, researchers have uncovered a new general bactericidal process, autophagy, which can eliminate intracellular pathogens. This is a new, rapidly growing field replete with possibilities for novel, previously untried immunologic and pharmacologic interventions applicable not only to TB but to other stubborn bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases.
PMCID: PMC3225291  PMID: 18811236
autophagy; macrophage; phagosome; phosphoinositide; Rab; tuberculosis

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