Functional characterization of a phospholipase A2 homolog from Rickettsia typhi

M. Sayeedur Rahman, Nicole C. Ammerman, Khandra T. Sears, Shane M. Ceraul, Abdu F. Azad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) has long been proposed to be involved in rickettsial entry into host cells, escape from the phagosome to evade destruction by lysosomal exposure, and lysis of the host cells. However, the corresponding rickettsial gene(s) encoding a protein with PLA2 activity has not been identified or functionally characterized. Here, we report that the Rickettsia typhi genome possesses two genes encoding patatin-like PLA2 proteins, RT0590 and RT0522. Sequence analysis of RT0522 and RT0590 reveals the presence of the conserved motifs essential for PLA 2 activity. Transcriptional analysis indicates that RT0522, but not RT0590, is transcribed at all stages of intracellular growth of R. typhi in Vero cells. The differential gene expression pattern of RT0522 at various stages of growth suggests its potential role during R. typhi infection of host cells. In silico, RT0522 is predicted to be noncytoplasmic and its gene does not encode a recognizable signal peptide sequence. However, our data indicate that RT0522 is secreted into the host cytoplasm. In addition, we observe that RT0522 protein expression is cytotoxic to both yeast and Vero cells. Importantly, we demonstrate that recombinant RT0522 possesses phospholipase A activity that requires a eukaryotic host cofactor for activation. Both cytotoxicity and phospholipase A activity associated with RT0522 were reduced by PLA2 inhibitors. Site-directed mutagenesis of predicted catalytic Ser/Asp residues of RT0522 also eliminates cytotoxicity and phospholipase A activity. To our knowledge, RT0522 is the first protein identified from Rickettsia typhi with functional phospholipase A activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3294-3303
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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