Subversion of host cellular processes by the melioidosis pathogen, Burkholderia pseudomallei
Vander Broek, Charles William
Burkholderia pseudomallei is an intracellular pathogen and the causative agent of melioidosis, a severe disease of humans and animals. One of the virulence factors critical for early stages of infection is the Burkholderia secretion apparatus (Bsa) Type 3 Secretion System (T3SS), a molecular syringe that injects bacterial proteins, called effectors, into eukaryotic cells where they subvert cellular functions to the benefit of the bacteria. Although the Bsa T3SS itself is known to be important for host cell invasion, intracellular replication, and virulence, only a few genuine effector proteins have been identified and the complete repertoire of proteins secreted by the system has not yet been fully characterized. The aims of this study are twofold. The first is to expand the repertoire of known effector proteins using modern proteomics techniques. The second is to explore the function of a subset of effector proteins to better understand their interaction with host cells. Isobaric Tags for Relative and Absolute Quantification (iTRAQ), a gel-free quantitative proteomics technique, was used to compare the secreted protein profiles of the Bsa T3SS hyper-secreting mutants of B. pseudomallei with the isogenic parent strain as well as a mutant incapable of effector protein secretion. This study provides one of the most comprehensive core secretomes of B. pseudomallei described to date and identified 26 putative Bsa-dependent secreted proteins that may be considered candidate effectors. Two of these proteins, BprD and BapA, were validated as novel effector proteins secreted by the Bsa T3SS of B. pseudomallei. To determine the possible function of two effector proteins, BipC and BapA, a yeast two-hybrid system was used to identify host cell proteins the effectors interact with. The proteins were screened against a library of human proteins for interactions. BapA interacted with 2 proteins while BipC interacted with 14. Both BapA and BipC were shown to interact with human C1QBP, a mitochondrial protein involved in inflammation, immunity and autophagy. Finally, the Bsa T3SS protein BipC was characterised in its ability to interact with actin. This study is the first evidence that BipC has the ability to bind to filamentous actin, but not monomeric actin. This binding is direct and no intermediate proteins are required for the interaction. Ectopic expression of BipC in eukaryotic cells caused cytoskeletal rearrangements consistent with an actin-binding protein. The core secretome represents a substantial resource of targets that will be mined for improved diagnostic assays and vaccines. Diagnostics that will detect early stages of disease to allow for more effective antimicrobial intervention are currently lacking. Furthermore, there is scope to design diagnostic assays with dual use such as to detect both melioidosis and infection of cystic fibrosis patients with the closely related opportunistic pathogen B. cepacia. The description of novel T3SS effector proteins is also of considerable value since T3SS proteins are often potent B- and T- cell antigens representing promising components of sub-unit vaccines. Such effector proteins commonly modulate cellular processes such as phagocytosis, inflammasome activation and cell cycle progression, hence the function of the predicted T3SS effectors will provide a series of future research opportunities.