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Volume 5, Issue 12, pp. 525 - 571, December 2018

Issue cover
Cover: Late liver stage of Plasmodium berghei developing in vitro in the human hepatocyte cell line HepG2. Host cell actin is visualized with Phalloidin (here: turqoise). DNA is stained with Dapi (here: yellow), parasite cytoplasm with antibodies against HSP70 (magenta). Image by Dr. Mirko Singer, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Germany; image modified by MIC. The cover is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Enlarge issue cover


Pathways of host cell exit by intracellular pathogens

Antje Flieger, Freddy Frischknecht, Georg Häcker, Mathias W. Hornef, Gabriele Pradel

page 525-544 | 10.15698/mic2018.12.659 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Host cell exit is a critical step in the life-cycle of intracellular pathogens, intimately linked to barrier penetration, tissue dissemination, inflammation, and pathogen transmission. Like cell invasion and intracellular survival, host cell exit represents a well-regulated program that has evolved during host-pathogen co-evolution and that relies on the dynamic and intricate interplay between multiple host and microbial factors. Three distinct pathways of host cell exit have been identified that are employed by three different taxa of intracellular pathogens, bacteria, fungi and protozoa, namely (i) the initiation of programmed cell death, (ii) the active breaching of host cell-derived membranes, and (iii) the induced membrane-dependent exit without host cell lysis. Strikingly, an increasing number of studies show that the majority of intracellular pathogens utilize more than one of these strategies, dependent on life-cycle stage, environmental factors and/or host cell type. This review summarizes the diverse exit strategies of intracellular-living bacterial, fungal and protozoan pathogens and discusses the convergently evolved commonalities as well as system-specific variations thereof. Key microbial molecules involved in host cell exit are highlighted and discussed as potential targets for future interventional approaches.

Research Articles

A humanized yeast-based toolkit for monitoring phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity at both single cell and population levels

Julia María Coronas-Serna, Teresa Fernández-Acero, María Molina and Víctor J. Cid

page 545-554 | 10.15698/mic2018.12.660 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is a key regulator of phosphoinositide-dependent signaling in mammalian cells and its dysfunction is related to multiple syndromes, including cancer. By heterologous expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we have developed a humanized yeast system as a tool for functional studies on higher eukaryotic PI3K. Here we restrict PI3K activity in yeast to specific plasma membrane (PM) microdomains by fusing the p110α PI3K catalytic subunit to either a septin or an eisosome component. We engineered a Dual Reporter for PI3K (DRAPIK), useful to monitor activity on cellular membranes in vivo at a single-cell level, by simultaneous PM staining of the enzyme substrate (PtdIns4,5P2) with GFP and its product (PtdIns3,4,5P3) with mCherry. We also developed a sensitive FLUorescence by PI3K Inhibition (FLUPI) assay based on a GFP transcriptional reporter that is turned off by PI3K activity. This reporter system proved useful to monitor PI3K inhibition in vivo by active compounds. Such novel tools were used to study the performance of yeast PM microdomain-directed PI3K. Our results show that tethering heterologous PI3K to discrete PM domains potentiates its activity on PtdIns4,5P2 but different locations display distinct effects on yeast growth and endocytosis.

Specific mutations in the permease domain of septal protein SepJ differentially affect functions related to multicellularity in the filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena

Félix Ramos-León, Sergio Arévalo, Vicente Mariscal and Enrique Flores

page 555-565 | 10.15698/mic2018.12.661 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Filamentous, heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria are multicellular organisms in which growth requires the activity of two interdependent cell types that exchange nutrients and regulators. Vegetative cells provide heterocysts with reduced carbon, and heterocysts provide vegetative cells with fixed nitrogen. Additionally, heterocyst differentiation from vegetative cells is regulated by inhibitors of differentiation produced by prospective heterocysts and heterocysts. Proteinaceous structures known as septal junctions join the cells in the filament. The SepJ protein is involved in formation of septal junctions in the model heterocyst-forming cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120. SepJ bears extra-membrane and membrane (permease) domains and is located at the cell poles in the intercellular septa of the filament. Here we created Anabaena mutants that produce SepJ proteins altered in the permease domain. Some of these mutant SepJ proteins did not provide functions needed for Anabaena to form long filaments and (in some cases) differentiate heterocysts, identifying amino acids and amino acid stretches that are important for the structure or function of the protein. Some other mutant SepJ proteins fulfilled filamentation and heterocyst differentiation functions but failed to provide normal communication function assessed via the intercellular transfer of the fluorescent marker calcein. These mutant SepJ proteins bore mutations in amino acids located at the cytoplasmic face of the permease, which could affect access of the fluorescent marker to the septal junctions. Overall, the data are consistent with the idea that SepJ carries out multiple roles in the multicellular function of the Anabaena filament.


Insights into the host-pathogen interaction: C. albicans manipulation of macrophage pyroptosis

Teresa R. O’Meara and Leah E. Cowen

page 566-568 | 10.15698/mic2018.12.662 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

The innate immune system is the first defense against invasive fungal infections, including those caused by Candida albicans. Although C. albicans can exist as a commensal, it can also cause systemic or mucosal infections, especially when the innate immune system is impaired. A key aspect of the interaction between C. albicans and innate immune cells is the ability of C. albicans to induce macrophage pyroptosis, an inflammatory cell death program. The induction of pyroptosis is temporally coupled to a morphological transition between yeast and filamentous growth. However, the relationship between fungal morphogenesis and activation of macrophage pyroptosis is complex. Although most C. albicans mutants with defects in filamentation are also unable to induce macrophage pyroptosis, filamentation is neither necessary nor sufficient for activation of pyroptosis. In our study [O’Meara et al., 2018 mBio], we set out to map the genetic circuitry in both the fungus and the host macrophage that leads to pyroptosis, and determine the impact of altered pyroptosis on infection. We identified 98
C. albicans genes that were dispensable for filamentation in the macrophage but important for enabling the fungus to activate macrophage pyroptosis. Using these mutants, we demonstrated that pyroptosis is required for robust neutrophil accumulation at the site of C. albicans infection. We also showed that, in contrast to previous work, inflammasome priming and activation can be decoupled in the response to C. albicans infection, and that phagolysosomal rupture is not the inflammasome activating signal. Our work provides the most comprehensive analysis of C. albicans interactions with host cells to date, and reveals new factors governing the outcomes of this interaction.

Retroviral integration site selection: a running Gag?

Paul Lesbats and Vincent Parissi

page 569-571 | 10.15698/mic2018.12.663 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

The ability of retroviruses to integrate their genomes into host chromatin is a key step for the completion of their replication cycle. Selection of a suitable chromosomal integration site has been described as a hierarchical mechanism involving both cellular and viral proteins but the exact molecular determinants are still unclear. We recently showed that the spumaretrovirus prototype foamy virus (PFV) Gag protein is acting as a chromatin tether by interacting with the nucleosome acidic patch (Lesbats et al. PNAS 114(21)). Disruption of the nucleosome binding leads to a dramatic delocalization of both the viral particles and the integration sites accompanied with a reduction of integrated genes expression. These data show for the first time a direct interaction between retroviral structural proteins with the host chromosomes, and highlight their importance in the integration sites selection.

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