Cellular targets of Pseudomonas aeruginosa toxin Exoenzyme S

University dissertation from Umeå universitet

Abstract: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that can cause life-threatening infections in immunocompromised patients. It uses a type III secretion dependent mechanism to translocate toxic effector proteins directly into the eukaryotic cell. The enzymatic activity of two of these toxins, Exoenzyme S (ExoS) and Exoenzyme T (ExoT), have been studied in this thesis. ExoS is a bi-functional toxin known to contain a C-terminal ADP-ribosyltransferase activity, which has been shown to modify members of the Ras family in vitro. The N-terminal of ExoS contains a GTPase Activating Protein (GAP) domain, which shows specificity towards Rho proteins in vitro. ExoT shows high homology (76%) towards ExoS and has also been reported to contain ADP-ribosyltransferase activity in vitro. To study the biological effect of the two toxins, we inserted ExoS or ExoT into eukaryotic cells using the heterologous type III secretion system of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. We found that Ras was ADP-ribosylated in vivo and this modification altered the ratio of GTP/GDP bound directly to Ras. We also found that ExoS could ADP-ribosylate several members of the Ras superfamily in vivo, modulating the activity of those proteins. In contrast, ExoT showed no ADP-ribosylation activity towards any of the GTPases tested. This suggests that ExoS is the major ADP-ribosyltransferase modulating small GTPase function encoded by P. aeruginosa. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that the GAP activity of ExoS abolishes the activation of RhoA, Cdc42 and Rap1 in vivo, and that ExoT shows GAP activity towards RhoA in vitro.The ADP-ribosyltransferase activity of ExoS is dependent on the eukaryotic protein 14-3-3. 14-3-3 proteins interact with ExoS in a phospho-independent manner. We identified the amino acids 424DALDL428 on ExoS to be necessary for the specific interaction between ExoS and 14-3-3. Deletion of these five amino acids abolishes the ADP-ribosylation of Ras and hence the cytotoxic effect of P. aeruginosa on cells. Thus the 14-3-3 binding motif on ExoS appears to be critical for both the ADP-ribosylation activity and the cytotoxic action of ExoS in vivo.