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Vibrio parahaemolyticus pandemic serotype O3 : K6 causes acute gastroenteritis, wound infections and septicaemia in humans. This organism encodes two type III secretion systems (T3SS1 and T3SS2); host-cell cytotoxicity has been attributed to T3SS1. Synthesis and secretion of T3SS1 proteins is positively regulated by ExsA, which is presumptively regulated by the ExsCDE pathway, similar to Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Herein we deleted the putative exsE from V. parahaemolyticus and found constitutive expression of the T3SS1 in broth culture as expected. More importantly, however, in a cell culture model, the ΔexsE strain was unable to induce cytotoxicity, as measured by release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), or autophagy, as measured by LC3 conversion. This is markedly different from P. aeruginosa, where deletion of exsE has no effect on host-cell cytolysis. Swarming and cytoadhesion were reduced for the deletion mutant and could be recovered along with T3SS1-induced HeLa cell cytotoxicity by in cis expression of exsE in the ΔexsE strain. Loss of adhesion and swarming motility was associated with the loss of flagella biogenesis in the exsE-deficient strain. Mouse mortality was unaffected by the deletion of exsE compared with a wild-type control, suggesting that additional adhesins are important for intoxication in vivo. Based on these data, we conclude that ExsE contributes to the negative regulation of T3SS1 and, in addition, contributes to regulation of an adherence phenotype that is requisite for translocation of effector proteins into HeLa cells.


Daniel P Erwin, Seth D Nydam, Douglas R Call. Vibrio parahaemolyticus ExsE is requisite for initial adhesion and subsequent type III secretion system 1-dependent autophagy in HeLa cells. Microbiology (Reading, England). 2012 Sep;158(Pt 9):2303-14

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PMID: 22767546

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