TheVibrio parahaemolyticuseffector VopC mediates Cdc42-dependent invasion of cultured cells but is not required for pathogenicity in an animal model of infection

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Abstract

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a Gram-negative marine bacterium that causes acute gastroenteritis in humans. The virulence of V. parahaemolyticus is dependent upon a type III secretion system (T3SS2). One effector for T3SS2, VopC, is a homologue of the catalytic domain of cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF), and was recently reported to be a Rho family GTPase activator and to be linked to internalization of V. parahaemolyticus by non-phagocytic cultured cells. Here, we provide direct evidence that VopC deamidates Rac1 and CDC42, but not RhoA, in vivo. Our results alsosuggest that VopC, through its activation of Rac1, contributes to formation of actin stress fibres in infected cells. Invasion of host cells, which occurs at a low frequency, does not seem linked to Rac1 activation, but instead appears to require CDC42. Finally, using an infant rabbit model of V. parahaemolyticus infection, we show that the virulence of V. parahaemolyticus is not dependent upon VopC-mediated invasion. Genetic inactivation of VopC did not impair intestinal colonization nor reduce signs of disease, including fluid accumulation, diarrhoea and tissue destruction. Thus, although VopC can promote host cell invasion, such internalization is not a critical step of the disease process, consistent with the traditional view of V. parahaemolyticus as an extracellular pathogen.

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