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Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Jan 17;3(1):39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2007.10.011.

Bacterial actin assembly requires toca-1 to relieve N-wasp autoinhibition.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Actin polymerization in the mammalian cytosol can be locally activated by mechanisms that relieve the autoinhibited state of N-WASP, an initiator of actin assembly, a process that also requires the protein Toca-1. Several pathogenic bacteria, including Shigella, exploit this host feature to infect and disseminate efficiently. The Shigella outer membrane protein IcsA recruits N-WASP, which upon activation at the bacterial surface mediates localized actin polymerization. The molecular role of Toca-1 in N-WASP activation during physiological or pathological actin assembly processes in intact mammalian cells remains unclear. We show that actin tail initiation by S. flexneri requires Toca-1 for the conversion of N-WASP from a closed inactive conformation to an open active one. While N-WASP recruitment is dependent on IcsA, Toca-1 recruitment is instead mediated by S. flexneri type III secretion effectors. Thus, S. flexneri independently hijacks two nodes of the N-WASP actin assembly pathway to initiate localized actin tail assembly.

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