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Cell Host Microbe. 2011 Jul 21;10(1):9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2011.06.003.

Subcellular targeting of Salmonella virulence proteins by host-mediated S-palmitoylation.

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Section of Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


Several pathogenic bacteria utilize type III secretion systems (TTSS) to deliver into host cells bacterial virulence proteins with the capacity to modulate a variety of cellular pathways. Once delivered into host cells, the accurate targeting of bacterial effectors to specific locations is critical for their proper function. However, little is known about the mechanisms these virulence effectors use to reach their subcellular destination. Here we show that the Salmonella TTSS effector proteins SspH2 and SseI are localized to the plasma membrane of host cells, a process dependent on S-palmitoylation of a conserved cysteine residue within their N-terminal domains. We also show that effector protein lipidation is mediated by a specific subset of host-cell palmitoyltransferases and that lipidation is critical for effector function. This study describes a remarkable mechanism by which a pathogen exploits host-cell machinery to properly target its virulence factors.

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