Soluble adenylyl cyclases generate a cAMP signal that breaks down microtubules leading to endothelial cell barrier disruption. The P. aeruginosa type 3 secretion system effector exoenzyme Y is one such soluble cyclase. However, we have discovered that this enzyme is a promiscuous nucleotidyl cyclase capable of generating both purine and pyrimidine (i.e. non-canonical) cyclic nucleotide monophosphates, including cGMP, cUMP, and cAMP. The cAMP signal, and to a lesser extent the cGMP signal, activates protein kinase A, which phosphorylates tau leading to microtubule breakdown. Phosphorylated tau accumulates inside the endothelium for several hours as a high molecular weight, or oligomeric, form, and is then released from the cell into the supernatant in vitro, and bronchoalveolar lavage and blood in vivo. Preliminary data suggest cellular release of high molecular weight tau is stimulated by cUMP. Our previously published work and recent preliminary studies indicate high molecular weight tau retrieved from cellular supernatant fractions is heat stable, protease resistant, insoluble in certain detergents, insensitive to RNase and DNase treatments, and can be resolved in a 30-50% ammonium sulfate fraction by column chromatography. It can be sedimented by centrifugation with an angular momentum of 1.14 x 1012. This high molecular weight tau is transmissible between cells, leading to inter-endothelial cell gap formation, increased permeability and cytotoxicity; pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells are especially sensitive to this injury. Its cytotoxicity is inactivated by phenol extraction, by post-translational modification with diethylpyrocabonate, and with hexafluoro-2- propanol, all characteristics of amyloid proteins. We have searched for a means to prevent the transmissible cytotoxicity as an anti-inflammatory therapy. We have recently discovered that prion protein is expressed in lung endothelium. Whereas prion antibody treatment initiates a pro-survival signal and prevents tau-induced hyperpermeability and cytotoxicity, prion protein genetic deletion increases endothelial sensitivity to the high molecular weight tau. Hence, this proposal tests the hypothesis that ExoY generates purine and pyrimidine cyclic nucleotides in endothelium and induces release of high molecular weight tau capable of generating transmissible hyperpermeability and cytotoxicity, an effect prevented by antibody ligation of prion protein.
Endothelial cells line blood vessels and form a barrier that separates blood from tissue. In infection, this endothelial cell barrier is disrupted leading to the accumulation of fluids outside of the blood vessels, which compromises tissue function. Here, we resolve a novel mechanism of endothelial cell injury that perpetuates lung fluid accumulation, and we identify a new target for treatment of this important clinical problem.
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