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Cell Host Microbe. 2013 May 15;13(5):570-83. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2013.04.012.

The Shigella OspC3 effector inhibits caspase-4, antagonizes inflammatory cell death, and promotes epithelial infection.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Caspase-mediated inflammatory cell death acts as an intrinsic defense mechanism against infection. Bacterial pathogens deploy countermeasures against inflammatory cell death, but the mechanisms by which they do this remain largely unclear. In a screen for Shigella flexneri effectors that regulate cell death during infection, we discovered that Shigella infection induced acute inflammatory, caspase-4-dependent epithelial cell death, which is counteracted by the bacterial OspC3 effector. OspC3 interacts with the caspase-4-p19 subunit and inhibits its activation by preventing caspase-4-p19 and caspase-4-p10 heterodimerization by depositing the conserved OspC3 X1-Y-X₂-D-X₃ motif at the putative catalytic pocket of caspase-4. Infection of guinea pigs with a Shigella ospC3-deficient mutant resulted in enhanced inflammatory cell death and associated symptoms, correlating with decreased bacterial burdens. Salmonella Typhimurium and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli infection also induced caspase-4-dependent epithelial death. These findings highlight the importance of caspase-4-dependent innate immune responses and demonstrate that Shigella delivers a caspase-4-specific inhibitor to delay epithelial cell death and promote infection.

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