Infection with the intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila can lead to a severe pneumonia known as Legionnaires'disease. Legionella pneumophila uses a specialized type IV secretion apparatus, also known as the Dot/Icm system, to secrete over 150 effector proteins directly into the host cell. The translocated bacterial effectors establish a vacuolar niche that supports replication of L. pneumophila in eukaryotic cells. While there is an extensive literature describing how several of these effectors alter host cell functions, the targets of most have remained elusive. A significant problem in linking a particular effector to a particular function is the redundant or overlapping activity of many effectors. This means that L. pneumophila mutant strains deficient in any one effector often have no appreciable phenotype, preventing the identification of their host targets. While it is well appreciated that many L. pneumophila effectors directly alter host proteins through functions such as E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, there have been few methods developed to monitor pathogen-induced changes in host protein stability on a large scale. Here we propose to apply a novel screening method called the "Global Protein Stability" (GPS) system to identify host cell proteins whose stability is altered by the secreted L. pneumophila effectors. Once we have identified host proteins that are stabilized or destabilized when a functional type IV secretion system is present, we will test whether reducing or increasing the prevalence of these proteins (attempting to reverse the effects of the Legionella effectors) impairs the capacity of L. pneumophila to replicate and survive within host cells. Once we identify which host proteins must be altered in order for L. pneumophila to replicate, we will take a targeted approach to identify which of the L. pneumophila effectors are causing these essential changes to host proteins. In addition, the GPS screen may also identify the targets of specific "families" of effectors that have remained elusive, such as the L. pneumophila E3 ubiquitin ligases. The directed approach we propose allows us to overcome the difficulties inherent in target identification, such as the redundancy of effectors, and identify the functions of effectors that have remained cryptic. Organism-induced alterations of the host are key to pathogenesis, yet it has previously not been possible to study alterations to individual host proteins at the scale the GPS system permits. The experiments described in this proposal allow, for the first time, dissection of how bacterial infection globally regulates host cell proteins and pathways beyond the transcriptional level.

Public Health Relevance

Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires'disease replicates inside host cells. To manipulate the host cell and replicate intracellularly, the organism injects >150 of its proteins into host cells. The proposed research uses a large-scale approach to identify the targets of these injected bacterial proteins - identifying the host cell proteins that are destabilized or stabilized by the injected bacterial proteins. Once we identify which bacterial proteins are manipulating which host proteins, we can test methods to disrupt these interactions. This may lead to the development of new classes of antibiotics to treat bacterial infection.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IDM-A (80))
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Korpela, Jukka K
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Harvard University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Olive, Andrew J; Haff, Madeleine G; Emanuele, Michael J et al. (2014) Chlamydia trachomatis-induced alterations in the host cell proteome are required for intracellular growth. Cell Host Microbe 15:113-24