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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jan;27(2):425-36.

Heparin interferes with translocation of Yop proteins into HeLa cells and binds to LcrG, a regulatory component of the Yersinia Yop apparatus.

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International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology and Faculté de Médecine, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Yersiniae are equipped with the Yop virulon, an apparatus that allows extracellular bacteria to deliver toxic Yop proteins inside the host cell cytosol in order to sabotage the communication networks of the host cell or even to cause cell death. LcrG is a component of the Yop virulon involved in the regulation of secretion of the Yops. In this paper, we show that LcrG can bind HeLa cells, and we analyse the role of proteoglycans in this phenomenon. Treatment of the HeLa cells with heparinase I, but not chondroitinase ABC, led to inhibition of binding. Competition assays indicated that heparin and dextran sulphate strongly inhibited binding, but that other glycosaminoglycans did not. This demonstrated that binding of HeLa cells to purified LcrG is caused by heparan sulphate proteoglycans. LcrG could bind directly to heparin-agarose beads and, in agreement with these results, analysis of the protein sequence of Yersinia enterocolitica LcrG revealed heparin-binding motifs. In vitro production and secretion by Y. enterocolitica of the Yops was unaffected by the addition of heparin. However, the addition of exogenous heparin decreased the level of YopE-Cya translocation into HeLa cells. A similar decrease was seen with dextran sulphate, whereas the other glycosaminoglycans tested had no significant effect. Translocation was also decreased by treatment of HeLa cells with heparinitase, but not with chondroitinase. Thus, heparan sulphate proteoglycans have an important role to play in translocation. The interaction between LcrG and heparan sulphate anchored at the surface of HeLa cells could be a signal triggering deployment of the Yop translocation machinery. This is the first report of a eukaryotic receptor interacting with the type III secretion and associated translocation machinery of Yersinia or of other bacteria.

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