Xin Yan , Sen Hu , Yan Yang , Da Xu , Huoming Li , Wenxing Liu , Xijun He , Ganwu Li , Wentong Cai , Zhigao Bu
Infect Immun. 2020 Aug 10;IAI.00389-20. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00389-20. Online ahead of print.
Brucella, the causative agent of brucellosis, is a stealthy intracellular pathogen that is highly pathogenic to a range of mammals including humans. The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway transports folded proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane and has been implicated in virulence in many bacterial pathogens. However, the roles of the Tat system and related substrates in Brucella remain unclear. We report here that disruption of Tat increases the sensitivity of Brucella melitensis M28 to the membrane stressor sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), indicating cell envelope defects, as well as to ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA). In addition, mutating Tat renders M28 bacteria more sensitive to oxidative stress caused by H2O2 Further, loss of Tat significantly attenuates B melitensis infection in murine macrophages ex vivo Using a mouse model for persistent infection, we demonstrate that Tat is required for full virulence of B melitensis M28. Genome-wide in silico prediction combined with an in vivo amidase reporter assay indicates that at least 23 proteins are authentic Tat substrates, and they are functionally categorized into solute-binding proteins, oxidoreductases, cell envelope biosynthesis enzymes, and others. A comprehensive deletion study revealed that 6 substrates contribute significantly to Brucella virulence, including an L,D-transpeptidase, an ABC transporter solute-binding protein, and a methionine sulfoxide reductase. Collectively, our work establishes that the Tat pathway plays a critical role in Brucella virulence.
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