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Diverse gut pathogens exploit the host engulfment pathway via a conserved mechanism

  • Anandachar, Mahitha Shree
  • Roy, Suchismita
  • Sinha, Saptarshi
  • Boadi, Agyekum
  • Katkar, Gajanan D
  • Ghosh, Pradipta
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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Macrophages clear infections by engulfing and digesting pathogens within phagolysosomes. Pathogens escape this fate by engaging in a molecular arms race; they use WxxxE motif-containing "effector" proteins to subvert the host cells they invade and seek refuge within protective vacuoles. Here, we define the host component of the molecular arms race as an evolutionarily conserved polar "hot spot" on the PH domain of ELMO1 (Engulfment and Cell Motility protein 1), which is targeted by diverse WxxxE effectors. Using homology modeling and site-directed mutagenesis, we show that a lysine triad within the "patch" directly binds all WxxxE effectors tested: SifA (Salmonella), IpgB1 and IpgB2 (Shigella), and Map (enteropathogenic Escherichia coli). Using an integrated SifA-host protein-protein interaction network, in silico network perturbation, and functional studies, we show that the major consequences of preventing SifA-ELMO1 interaction are reduced Rac1 activity and microbial invasion. That multiple effectors of diverse structure, function, and sequence bind the same hot spot on ELMO1 suggests that the WxxxE effector(s)-ELMO1 interface is a convergence point of intrusion detection and/or host vulnerability. We conclude that the interface may represent the fault line in coevolved molecular adaptations between pathogens and the host, and its disruption may serve as a therapeutic strategy.

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