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EMBO J. 2001 Mar 15;20(6):1245-58.

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli mediates antiphagocytosis through the inhibition of PI 3-kinase-dependent pathways.

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  • 1Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada.


The extracellular pathogen enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) uses a type III secretion system to inhibit its uptake by macrophages. We show that EPEC antiphagocytosis is independent of the translocated intimin receptor Tir and occurs by preventing F-actin polymerization required for bacterial uptake. EPEC-macrophage contact triggered activation of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase, which was subsequently inhibited in a type III secretion-dependent manner. Inhibition of PI 3-kinase significantly reduced uptake of a secretion-deficient mutant, without affecting antiphagocytosis by the wild type, suggesting that EPEC blocks a PI 3-kinase-dependent phagocytic pathway. EPEC specifically inhibited Fc gamma receptor- but not CR3-receptor mediated phagocytosis of opsonized zymosan. We showed that EPEC inhibits PI 3-kinase activity rather than its recruitment to the site of bacterial contact. Phagocytosis of a secretion mutant correlated with the association of PI 3-kinase with tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins, which wild-type EPEC prevented. These results show that EPEC blocks its uptake by inhibiting a PI 3-kinase-mediated pathway, and translocates effectors other than Tir to interfere with actin-driven host cell processes. This constitutes a novel mechanism of phagocytosis avoidance by an extracellular pathogen.

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