Actin polymerization in the endosomal pathway, but not on the Coxiella-containing vacuole, is essential for pathogen growth

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Coxiella burnetii is an intracellular bacterium that replicates within an expansive phagolysosome-like vacuole. Fusion between the Coxiella-containing vacuole (CCV) and late endosomes/multivesicular bodies requires Rab7, the HOPS tethering complex, and SNARE proteins, with actin also speculated to play a role. Here, we investigated the importance of actin in CCV fusion. Filamentous actin patches formed around the CCV membrane that were preferred sites of vesicular fusion. Accordingly, the mediators of endolysosomal fusion Rab7, VAMP7, and syntaxin 8 were concentrated in CCV actin patches. Generation of actin patches required C. burnetii type 4B secretion and host retromer function. Patches decorated with VPS29 and VPS35, components of the retromer, FAM21 and WASH, members of the WASH complex that engage the retromer, and Arp3, a component of the Arp2/3 complex that generates branched actin filaments. Depletion by siRNA of VPS35 or VPS29 reduced CCV actin patches and caused Rab7 to uniformly distribute in the CCV membrane. C. burnetii grew normally in VPS35 or VPS29 depleted cells, as well as WASH-knockout mouse embryo fibroblasts, where CCVs are devoid of actin patches. Endosome recycling to the plasma membrane and trans-Golgi of glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and cationic-independent mannose-6-phosphate receptor (CI-M6PR), respectively, was normal in infected cells. However, siRNA knockdown of retromer resulted in aberrant trafficking of GLUT1, but not CI-M6PR, suggesting canonical retrograde trafficking is unaffected by retromer disruption. Treatment with the specific Arp2/3 inhibitor CK-666 strongly inhibited CCV formation, an effect associated with altered endosomal trafficking of transferrin receptor. Collectively, our results show that CCV actin patches generated by retromer, WASH, and Arp2/3 are dispensable for CCV biogenesis and stability. However, Arp2/3-mediated production of actin filaments required for cargo transport within the endosomal system is required for CCV generation. These findings delineate which of the many actin related events that shape the endosomal compartment are important for CCV formation.




Miller, H. E., Larson, C. L., & Heinzen, R. A. (2018). Actin polymerization in the endosomal pathway, but not on the Coxiella-containing vacuole, is essential for pathogen growth. PLoS Pathogens, 14(4), e1007005.

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