Functional conservation of the effector protein translocators PopB/YopB and PopD/YopD of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis


Elisabet Frithz-Lindsten , E-mail; Tel. (90) 106 812; Fax (90) 106 806.


Virulent Yersinia species cause systemic infections in rodents, and Y. pestis is highly pathogenic for humans. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, on the other hand, is an opportunistic pathogen, which normally infects only compromised individuals. Surprisingly, these pathogens both encode highly related contact-dependent secretion systems for the targeting of toxins into eukaryotic cells. In Yersinia, YopB and YopD direct the translocation of the secreted Yop effectors across the target cell membrane. In this study, we have analysed the function of the YopB and YopD homologues, PopB and PopD, encoded by P. aeruginosa. Expression of the pcrGVHpopBD operon in defined translocation-deficient mutants (yopB/yopD ) of Yersinia resulted in complete complementation of the cell contact-dependent, YopE-induced cytotoxicity of Y. pseudotuberculosis on HeLa cells. We demonstrated that the complementation fully restored the ability of Y. pseudotuberculosis to translocate the effector molecules YopE and YopH into the HeLa cells. Similar to YopB, PopB induced a lytic effect on infected erythrocytes. The lytic activity induced by PopB could be prevented if the erythrocytes were infected in the presence of sugars larger than 3 nm in diameter, indicating that PopB induced a pore of similar size compared with that induced by YopB. Our findings show that the contact-dependent toxin-targeting mechanisms of Y. pseudotuberculosis and P. aeruginosa are conserved at the molecular level and that the translocator proteins are functionally interchangeable. Based on these similarities, we suggest that the translocation of toxins such as ExoS, ExoT and ExoU by P. aeruginosa across the eukaryotic cell membrane occurs via a pore induced by PopB.