Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, which cause gastroenteritis, inject proteins called effectors into host cells. One of those effectors, VopQ, almost immediately starts to disrupt the important process of autophagy via a novel channel-forming mechanism, the scientists report in the investigation available online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Autophagy is the cellular housekeeping mechanism used to recycle nutrients in cells as well as to fight off pathogens. The term autophagy comes from the Greek words for self and eating. During the process, nutrients are recycled by the lysosome, an internal organelle, to produce metabolites that can be used by the cell.
“Our study identifies a bacterial effector that creates gated ion channels and reveals a novel mechanism that may regulate autophagy,” said Dr. Kim Orth, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. She is a corresponding author on the published study. The first author is Anju Sreelatha, a graduate student in Dr. Orth’s laboratory.
“Disruptions of autophagic pathways are implicated in many human diseases, including neurodegenerative disease, liver disease, some cancers, and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease),” Ms. Sreelatha said.
She explained that ion channels are pores in the membranes of cells or of organelles within cells that allow regulated passage of small molecules or ions across membranes. Gated channels have a mechanism that opens and closes them, making these proteins potential targets for drug development.
“The identification of a channel that opens and closes and thereby affects autophagy may give us a handle by which to modulate this important process,” she said, adding that the researchers found that VopQ’s channel activity turned off autophagy.
“During infection, VopQ is injected into the host cell where the protein binds to a lysosomal membrane protein and forms small pores, all within minutes of infection. The resulting complex of proteins causes ions to leak and the lysosomes to de-acidify. Lacking acidification, lysosomes cannot degrade the unneeded cellular components and autophagy is disrupted,” Ms. Sreelatha said.
Dr. Orth said “Bacterial pathogens have evolved a number of ways to target and manipulate host cell signaling; the ability of VopQ to form a gated ion channel and to inhibit autophagy represents a novel mechanism.”
Further characterization of the mechanism by which VopQ sabotages cells to disrupt autophagy may lead to a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions as well as advance our understanding of the pathway, eventually leading to new treatments for diseases in which autophagy has gone awry, they noted.
Other UT Southwestern scientists involved were Dr. Hui Zheng, a postdoctoral researcher of cell biology, and Dr. Qiu-Xing Jiang, assistant professor of cell biology. Also participating were Terry Bennett and Dr. Vincent Starai of the University of Georgia.
Funding was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation; the Welch Foundation; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; and by University of Georgia Startup Funds.About UT Southwestern Medical Center
Deborah Wormser | Newswise
Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy