Modulation of host cell function is vital for intracellular pathogens to survive and replicate within host cells. Most commonly, these pathogens utilize specialized secretion systems to inject substrates (also called effector proteins) that function as toxins within host cells. Since it would be detrimental for an intracellular pathogen to immediately kill its host cell, it is essential that secreted toxins be inactivated or degraded after they have served their purpose. The pathogen Legionella pneumophila represents an ideal system to study interactions between toxins as it survives within host cells for approximately a day and its Dot/Icm type IVB secretion system (T4SS) injects a vast number of toxins. Previously we reported that the Dot/Icm substrates SidE, SdeA, SdeB, and SdeC (known as the SidE family of effectors) are secreted into host cells, where they localize to the cytoplasmic face of the Legionella containing vacuole (LCV) in the early stages of infection. SidJ, another effector that is unrelated to the SidE family, is also encoded in the sdeC-sdeA locus. Interestingly, while over-expression of SidE family proteins in a wild type Legionella strain has no effect, we found that their over-expression in a ∆sidJ mutant completely inhibits intracellular growth of the strain. In addition, we found expression of SidE proteins is toxic in both yeast and mammalian HEK293 cells, but this toxicity can be suppressed by co-expression of SidJ, suggesting that SidJ may modulate the function of SidE family proteins. Finally, we were able to demonstrate both in vivo and in vitro that SidJ acts on SidE proteins to mediate their disappearance from the LCV, thereby preventing lethal intoxication of host cells. Based on these findings, we propose that SidJ acts as a metaeffector to control the activity of other Legionella effectors.
Jeong, K. C., Sexton, J. A., & Vogel, J. P. (2015). Spatiotemporal Regulation of a Legionella pneumophila T4SS Substrate by the Metaeffector SidJ. PLoS Pathogens, 11(3), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004695