UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Bacterial Infections and Mycoses | Immunity | Immunology of Infectious Disease | Infectious Disease | Pathogenic Microbiology


Specialized protein translocation systems are used by many bacterial pathogens to deliver effector proteins into host cells that interfere with normal cellular functions. How the host immune system recognizes and responds to this intrusive event is not understood. To address these questions, we determined the mammalian cellular response to the virulence-associated type III secretion system (T3SS) of the human pathogen Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. We found that macrophages devoid of Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling regulate expression of 266 genes following recognition of the Y. pseudotuberculosis T3SS. This analysis revealed two temporally distinct responses that could be separated into activation of NFkappaB- and type I IFN-regulated genes. Extracellular bacteria were capable of triggering these signaling events, as inhibition of bacterial uptake had no effect on the ensuing innate immune response. The cytosolic peptidoglycan sensors Nod1 and Nod2 and the inflammasome component caspase-1 were not involved in NFkappaB activation following recognition of the Y. pseudotuberculosis T3SS. However, caspase-1 was required for secretion of the inflammatory cytokine IL-1beta in response to T3SS-positive Y. pseudotuberculosis. In order to characterize the bacterial requirements for induction of this novel TLR-, Nod1/2-, and caspase-1-independent response, we used Y. pseudotuberculosis strains lacking specific components of the T3SS. Formation of a functional T3SS pore was required, as bacteria expressing a secretion needle, but lacking the pore-forming proteins YopB or YopD, did not trigger these signaling events. However, nonspecific membrane disruption could not recapitulate the NFkappaB signaling triggered by Y. pseudotuberculosis expressing a functional T3SS pore. Although host cell recognition of the T3SS did not require known translocated substrates, the ensuing response could be modulated by effectors such as YopJ and YopT, as YopT amplified the response, while YopJ dampened it. Collectively, these data suggest that combined recognition of the T3SS pore and YopBD-mediated delivery of immune activating ligands into the host cytosol informs the host cell of pathogenic challenge. This leads to a unique, multifactorial response distinct from the canonical immune response to a bacterium lacking a T3SS.


Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Macrophages, Secretion systems, Cytokines

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Copyright: © 2009 Auerbuch et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS Pathog. 2009 Dec;5(12):e1000686. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000686. Epub 2009 Dec 4. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLoS pathogens

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.