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Summary

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) strains are diarrhoeal pathogens that use a type III secretion system to translocate effector proteins into host cells in order to colonize and multiply in the human gut. Map, EspI and NleH1 are conserved EPEC effectors that possess a C-terminal class I PSD-95/Disc Large/ZO-1 (PDZ)-binding motif. Using a PDZ array screen we identified Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor 2 (NHERF2), a scaffold protein involved in tethering and recycling ion channels in polarized epithelia that contains two PDZ domains, as a common target of Map, EspI and NleH1. Using recombinant proteins and co-immunoprecipitation we confirmed that NHERF2 binds each of the effectors. We generated a HeLa cell line stably expressing HA-tagged NHERF2 and found that Map, EspI and NleH1 colocalize and interact with intracellular NHERF2 via their C-terminal PDZ-binding motif. Overexpression of NHERF2 enhanced the formation and persistence of Map-induced filopodia, accelerated the trafficking of EspI to the Golgi and diminished the anti-apoptotic activity of NleH1. The binding of multiple T3SS effectors to a single scaffold protein is unique. Our data suggest that NHERF2 may act as a plasma membrane sorting site, providing a novel regulatory mechanism to control the intracellular spatial and temporal effector protein activity.