With 8.9 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths per year, tuberculosis is a leading global killer that has not been effectively controlled. The causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, proliferates within host macrophages where it modifies both its intracellular and local tissue environment, resulting in caseous granulomas with incomplete bacterial sterilization. Although infection by various mycobacterial species produces a cyclic AMP burst within macrophages that influences cell signalling, the underlying mechanism for the cAMP burst remains unclear. Here we show that among the 17 adenylate cyclase genes present in M. tuberculosis, at least one (Rv0386) is required for virulence. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the Rv0386 adenylate cyclase facilitates delivery of bacterial-derived cAMP into the macrophage cytoplasm. Loss of Rv0386 and the intramacrophage cAMP it delivers results in reductions in TNF-α production via the protein kinase A and cAMP response-element-binding protein pathway, decreased immunopathology in animal tissues, and diminished bacterial survival. Direct intoxication of host cells by bacterial-derived cAMP may enable M. tuberculosis to modify both its intracellular and tissue environments to facilitate its long-term survival.
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