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Cell Microbiol. 2017 Feb;19(2). doi: 10.1111/cmi.12656. Epub 2016 Sep 23.

A pore-forming toxin enables Serratia a nonlytic egress from host cells.

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Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina.


Several pathogens co-opt host intracellular compartments to survive and replicate, and they thereafter disperse progeny to prosper in a new niche. Little is known about strategies displayed by Serratia marcescens to defeat immune responses and disseminate afterwards. Upon invasion of nonphagocytic cells, Serratia multiplies within autophagosome-like vacuoles. These Serratia-containing vacuoles (SeCV) circumvent progression into acidic/degradative compartments, avoiding elimination. In this work, we show that ShlA pore-forming toxin (PFT) commands Serratia escape from invaded cells. While ShlA-dependent, Ca2+ local increase was shown in SeCVs tight proximity, intracellular Ca2+ sequestration prevented Serratia exit. Accordingly, a Ca2+ surge rescued a ShlA-deficient strain exit capacity, demonstrating that Ca2+ mobilization is essential for egress. As opposed to wild-type-SeCV, the mutant strain-vacuole was wrapped by actin filaments, showing that ShlA expression rearranges host actin. Moreover, alteration of actin polymerization hindered wild-type Serratia escape, while increased intracellular Ca2+ reorganized the mutant strain-SeCV actin distribution, restoring wild-type-SeCV phenotype. Our results demonstrate that, by ShlA expression, Serratia triggers a Ca2+ signal that reshapes cytoskeleton dynamics and ends up pushing the SeCV load out of the cell, in an exocytic-like process. These results disclose that PFTs can be engaged in allowing bacteria to exit without compromising host cell integrity.

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