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Pauline Basso

Exolysin, a novel virulence factor of Pseudomonas aeruginosa clonal outliers

Published on 24 October 2017

Thesis presented on October 24, 2017

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a human opportunistic pathogen responsible for nosocomial infections associated with high mortality. The type III secretion system (T3SS) and T3SS-exported toxins have been considered as key infectivity virulence factors. Our team recently characterized a group of strains lacking T3SS, but employing a new toxin: Exolysin (ExlA) that provokes cell membrane disruption. In this work we demonstrated that ExlA secretion requires ExlB, a predicted outer membrane protein encoded in the same operon, showing that ExlA-ExlB define a new active TPS system. In addition to the TPS secretion signals, ExlA harbors several distinct domains, which comprise hemagglutinin domains, five Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic acid (RGD) motifs and a non-conserved C-terminal region lacking any identifiable sequence motifs. Cytotoxic assays showed that the deletion of the C-terminal region abolishes host-cell cytolysis. Using liposomes and eukaryotic cells, we demonstrated that ExlA forms membrane pores of 1.6 nm. Based on a transposon mutagenesis strategy and a high throughput cellular live-dead screen, we identified additional bacterial factors required for ExlA-mediated cell lysis. We identified three transposons inserted in genes encoding components of the Type IV pili, which are adhesive extracellular appendices. Type IV pili probably mediate close contact between bacteria and host cells and facilitate ExlA cytotoxic activity. These findings represent the first example of cooperation between a pore-forming toxin of the TPS family and surface appendages to achieve host cell intoxication. Using mice primary bone marrow macrophages we showed that ExlA pores provoke activation of Caspase-1 via the NLRP3-inflamasomme followed by the maturation of the pro-interleukin-1ß. Mining of microbial genomic databases revealed the presence of exlA-like genes in other Pseudomonas species rarely associated with human infections. Interestingly, we showed that these environmental bacteria are also able to provoke Caspase-1 cleavage and pro-inflammatory cell death of macrophages. Finally, genome-wide loss-of-function CRISPR/cas9 RAW library screen revealed that several components of the immune system response, indirectly linked to Caspase-1 are involved in the ExlA-mediated cell lysis. Moreover, we found that at least three sgRNAs targeting miRNA, mir-741 were highly enriched in resistant macrophages challenged by ExlA. This miRNA regulates enzymes (St8sIa1 and Agpat5) in the sphingolipids and glycerophololipids biosynthesis pathways, suggesting that ExlA activity may require proper lipid environment.

Pore-forming toxin, Type IV pili, Pyroptosis, High-throughput screening, CRISPR/cas9