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Summary

Pseudomonas aeruginosa ExoS (453 amino acids) is a bifunctional type III cytotoxin, comprising a Rho GTPase-activating protein domain (RhoGAP), and a 14-3-3 dependent ADP-ribosyltransferase domain. In addition, ExoS contains a membrane localization domain (termed MLD, residues 51–77) which localizes and traffics ExoS within intoxicated host cells. While membrane localization has been shown to be essential for ExoS to ADP-ribosylate Ras, the relationship between intracellular localization and expression of RhoGAP activity has not been addressed. In this study, loss of MLD function was observed to abolish expression of ExoS RhoGAP activity in HeLa cells. One mutation within the MLD (R56, R63, D70 mutated to N, RRD[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]N) diminished plasma membrane localization and altered the cell rounding phenotype elicited by ExoS RhoGAP. In addition, cell rounding caused by ExoS-MLD(RRD[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]N) was reversed by dominant active Rac1, but not dominant active Cdc42, indicating a switch in ExoS RhoGAP substrate specificity. Mutation of the C-terminal polybasic region abolished the ability of dominant active Rac1 to protect HeLa cells from expression of the RhoGAP activity of ExoS-MLD(RRD[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]N). This study shows the importance of membrane localization in the targeting of Rho GTPases by ExoS RhoGAP.