Autonomous translocation and intracellular trafficking of the cell-penetrating and immune-suppressive effector protein YopM
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Extracellular Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria target essential cytoplasmic processes of eukaryotic cells by using effector protein delivery systems such as the type III secretion system (T3SS). These secretion systems directly inject effector proteins into the host cell cytoplasm. Among the T3SS-dependent Yop proteins of pathogenic Yersinia, the function of the effector protein YopM remains enigmatic. In a recent study, we demonstrated that recombinant YopM from Yersinia enterocolitica enters host cells autonomously without the presence of bacteria and thus identified YopM as a novel bacterial cell-penetrating protein. Following entry YopM down-regulates expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor α. These properties earmark YopM for further development as a novel anti-inflammatory therapeutic. To elucidate the uptake and intracellular targeting mechanisms of this bacterial cell-penetrating protein, we analyzed possible routes of internalization employing ultra-cryo electron microscopy. Our results reveal that under physiological conditions, YopM enters cells predominantly by exploiting endocytic pathways. Interestingly, YopM was detected free in the cytosol and inside the nucleus. We could not observe any colocalization of YopM with secretory membranes, which excludes retrograde transport as the mechanism for cytosolic release. However, our findings indicate that direct membrane penetration and/or an endosomal escape of YopM contribute to the cytosolic and nuclear localization of the protein. Surprisingly, even when endocytosis is blocked, YopM was found to be associated with endosomes. This suggests an intracellular endosome-associated transport of YopM.
KeywordsYersinia outer protein M Effector protein Cell-penetrating protein Electron microscopy Intracellular trafficking
Protein transduction domain
Yersinia outer protein M
This study was supported in part by the Graduate Program “Cell Dynamics and Disease (CEDAD)” of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (9817300 to J. S.) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Graduiertenkolleg GRK 1409) (209657 to M. A. S. and M.-L. L.) and by a grant of the Innovative Medizinische Forschung (IMF) (I-RÜ11106 to C. R.). This study is part of the PhD thesis of J. S. and M.-L. L.
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