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Cell Microbiol. 2008 Jan;10(1):20-30. Epub 2007 Jul 20.

SteC is a Salmonella kinase required for SPI-2-dependent F-actin remodelling.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Infection, Flowers Building, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) replicates inside mammalian cells within membrane-bound compartments called Salmonella-containing vacuoles. Intracellular replication is dependent on the activities of several effector proteins translocated across the vacuolar membrane by the Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 (SPI-2)-type III secretion system (T3SS). This is accompanied by the formation in the vicinity of bacterial vacuoles of an F-actin meshwork, thought to be involved in maintaining the integrity of vacuolar membranes. In this study, we investigated the function of the SPI-2 T3SS effector SteC. An steC mutant strain was not defective for intracellular replication or attenuated for virulence in mice. However, the steC mutant was defective for SPI-2-dependent F-actin meshwork formation in host cells, although the vacuolar membranes surrounding mutant bacteria appeared to be normal. Expression of SteC in fibroblast cells following transfection caused extensive rearrangements of the F-actin cytoskeleton. Sequence analysis identified amino acid similarity between SteC and the human kinase Raf-1. A His-tagged SteC fusion protein had kinase activity in vitro and a point mutant lacking kinase activity was unable to induce F-actin rearrangements in vivo. We conclude that SPI-2-dependent F-actin meshwork formation depends on the kinase activity of SteC, which resembles more closely eukaryotic than prokaryotic kinases.

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