Defects in Type III Secretion Correlate with Internalization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa by Epithelial Cells

Alan R. Hauser, Suzanne Fleiszig, Pil Jung Kang, Keith Mostov, Joanne N. Engel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Previous characterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa clinical isolates has demonstrated an inverse correlation between cytotoxicity and internalization by epithelial cells. To further investigate this relationship, we tested PA103, a cytotoxic P. aeruginosa strain, and 33 isogenic noncytotoxic transposon mutants for internalization by Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. The majority of the mutants were not internalized, demonstrating that an inverse correlation between cytotoxicity and bacterial uptake by epithelial cells is not absolute. Six of the noncytotoxic mutants, however, demonstrated measurable levels of internalization by standard aminoglycoside exclusion assays even though internalization of wild-type strain PA103 was not detectable. All six had evidence of protein secretion defects involving two proteins, a 40-kDa protein and a 32-kDa protein. These proteins, designated PepB (for Pseudomonas exoprotein B) and PepD, respectively, each had characteristics of type III transported proteins. In addition, nucleotide sequencing studies demonstrated that PepB and PepD are homologs of YopB and YopD, respectively, type III secreted proteins of Yersinia spp. necessary for the translocation of effector molecules into the cytoplasmic compartment of eukaryotic cells. Thus, while many mutations in PA103 result in loss of cytotoxicity without an appreciable increase in internalization, defects in transport of type III secretion proteins PepB and PepD correlate with both loss of cytotoxicity and gain of internalization. These results are consistent with type III secretion of an inhibitor of internalization that requires PepB and PepD for translocation into the host cell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1413-1420
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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