- Bacterial porin disrupts mitochondrial membrane potential and sensitizes host cells to apoptosis (2009)
- The bacterial PorB porin, an ATP-binding beta-barrel protein of pathogenic Neisseria gonorrhoeae, triggers host cell apoptosis by an unknown mechanism. PorB is targeted to and imported by host cell mitochondria, causing the breakdown of the mitochondrial membrane potential (delta psi m). Here, we show that PorB induces the condensation of the mitochondrial matrix and the loss of cristae structures, sensitizing cells to the induction of apoptosis via signaling pathways activated by BH3-only proteins. PorB is imported into mitochondria through the general translocase TOM but, unexpectedly, is not recognized by the SAM sorting machinery, usually required for the assembly of beta-barrel proteins in the mitochondrial outer membrane. PorB integrates into the mitochondrial inner membrane, leading to the breakdown of delta psi m. The PorB channel is regulated by nucleotides and an isogenic PorB mutant defective in ATP-binding failed to induce delta psi m loss and apoptosis, demonstrating that dissipation of delta psi m is a requirement for cell death caused by neisserial infection.
- Bim and Bmf synergize to induce apoptosis in Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection (2009)
- Abstract: Bcl-2 family proteins including the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins are central regulators of apoptotic cell death. Here we show by a focused siRNA miniscreen that the synergistic action of the BH3-only proteins Bim and Bmf is required for apoptosis induced by infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ngo). While Bim and Bmf were associated with the cytoskeleton of healthy cells, they both were released upon Ngo infection. Loss of Bim and Bmf from the cytoskeleton fraction required the activation of Jun-N-terminal kinase-1 (JNK-1), which in turn depended on Rac-1. Depletion and inhibition of Rac-1, JNK-1, Bim, or Bmf prevented the activation of Bak and Bax and the subsequent activation of caspases. Apoptosis could be reconstituted in Bim-depleted and Bmf-depleted cells by additional silencing of antiapoptotic Mcl-1 and Bcl-XL, respectively. Our data indicate a synergistic role for both cytoskeletal-associated BH3-only proteins, Bim, and Bmf, in an apoptotic pathway leading to the clearance of Ngo-infected cells. Author Summary: A variety of physiological death signals, as well as pathological insults, trigger apoptosis, a genetically programmed form of cell death. Pathogens often induce host cell apoptosis to establish a successful infection. Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ngo), the etiological agent of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, is a highly adapted obligate human-specific pathogen and has been shown to induce apoptosis in infected cells. Here we unveil the molecular mechanisms leading to apoptosis of infected cells. We show that Ngo-mediated apoptosis requires a special subset of proapoptotic proteins from the group of BH3-only proteins. BH3-only proteins act as stress sensors to translate toxic environmental signals to the initiation of apoptosis. In a siRNA-based miniscreen, we found Bim and Bmf, BH3-only proteins associated with the cytoskeleton, necessary to induce host cell apoptosis upon infection. Bim and Bmf inactivated different inhibitors of apoptosis and thereby induced cell death in response to infection. Our data unveil a novel pathway of infection-induced apoptosis that enhances our understanding of the mechanism by which BH3-only proteins control apoptotic cell death.
- IAP-IAP complexes required for apoptosis resistance of C. trachomatis-infected cells (2006)
- Host cells infected with obligate intracellular bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis are profoundly resistant to diverse apoptotic stimuli. The molecular mechanisms underlying the block in apoptotic signaling of infected cells is not well understood. Here we investigated the molecular mechanism by which apoptosis induced via the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor is prevented in infected epithelial cells. Infection with C. trachomatis leads to the up-regulation of cellular inhibitor of apoptosis (cIAP)-2, and interfering with cIAP-2 up-regulation sensitized infected cells for TNF-induced apoptosis. Interestingly, besides cIAP-2, cIAP-1 and X-linked IAP, although not differentially regulated by infection, are required to maintain apoptosis resistance in infected cells. We detected that IAPs are constitutively organized in heteromeric complexes and small interfering RNA-mediated silencing of one of these IAPs affects the stability of another IAP. In particular, the stability of cIAP-2 is modulated by the presence of X-linked IAP and their interaction is stabilized in infected cells. Our observations suggest that IAPs are functional and stable as heteromers, a thus far undiscovered mechanism of IAP regulation and its role in modulation of apoptosis.
- Mcl-1 is a key regulator of apoptosis resistance in Chlamydia trachomatis-infected cells (2008)
- Chlamydia are obligate intracellular bacteria that cause variety of human diseases. Host cells infected with Chlamydia are protected against many different apoptotic stimuli. The induction of apoptosis resistance is thought to be an important immune escape mechanism allowing Chlamydia to replicate inside the host cell. Infection with C. trachomatis activates the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway and the PI3K/AKT pathway. Here we show that inhibition of these two pathways by chemical inhibitors sensitized C. trachomatis infected cells to granzyme B-mediated cell death. Infection leads to the Raf/MEK/ERK-mediated up-regulation and PI3K-dependent stabilization of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Mcl-1. Consistently, interfering with Mcl-1 up-regulation sensitized infected cells for apoptosis induced via the TNF receptor, DNA damage, granzyme B and stress. Our data suggest that Mcl-1 up-regulation is primarily required to maintain apoptosis resistance in C. trachomatis-infected cells.