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Membrane Chaperone SecDF Plays a Role in the Secretion of Listeria monocytogenes Major Virulence Factors

Burg-Golani, Tamar, Pozniak, Yair, Rabinovich, Lev, Sigal, Nadejda, Nir Paz, Ran, Herskovits, Anat A.
Journal of bacteriology 2013 v.195 no.23 pp. 5262-5272
Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria, bacteriology, culture media, humans, macrophages, mice, mutants, pathogens, phagosomes, phenotype, secretion, virulence
Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive human intracellular pathogen that infects diverse mammalian cells. Upon invasion, L. monocytogenes secretes multiple virulence factors that target host cellular processes and promote infection. It has been presumed, but was not empirically established, that the Sec translocation system is the primary mediator of this secretion. Here, we validate an important role for SecDF, a component of the Sec system, in the secretion of several critical L. monocytogenes virulence factors. A ΔsecDF mutant is demonstrated to exhibit impaired membrane translocation of listeriolysin O (LLO), PlcA, PlcB, and ActA, factors that mediate L. monocytogenes phagosomal escape and spread from cell to cell. This impaired translocation was monitored by accumulation of the factors on the bacterial membrane and by reduced activity upon secretion. This defect in secretion is shown to be associated with a severe intracellular growth defect of the ΔsecDF mutant in macrophages and a less virulent phenotype in mice, despite normal growth in laboratory medium. We further show that SecDF is upregulated when the bacteria reside in macrophage phagosomes and that it is necessary for efficient phagosomal escape. Taken together, these data support the premise that SecDF plays a role as a chaperone that facilitates the translocation of L. monocytogenes virulence factors during infection.