Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli EspG disrupts microtubules and in conjunction with Orf3 enhances perturbation of the tight junction barrier

Mol Microbiol. 2005 Apr;56(2):447-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04571.x.


EspG, a secreted effector of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), as well as its homologue Orf3, has been shown to disrupt microtubules (MTs) in fibroblasts and non-polarized epithelial cells. The roles of MTs and the effects of MT disruption in these cell types differ significantly. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of EspG on polarized, host target intestinal epithelial cells. Immunofluorescent labelling of tubulin showed that EPEC caused progressive fragmentation and loss of the MT network in cells harbouring attached organisms. Immunoblots of proteins extracted from EPEC-infected cells showed a corresponding loss of alpha-tubulin. Type III secretion system (TTSS)-deficient strains had no effect on MT suggesting TTSS dependence. Mutation of espG, but not espF or map, ablated EPEC's effects on MTs for up to 6 h. Ectopic expression of EspG in HeLa cells caused MT disruption. While deletion of espG alone had no effect on the EPEC-induced decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance (TER), mutation of both espG and orf3 significantly delayed the kinetics of this response. Complementation of the double mutant with espG alone restored the kinetics of TER drop to that of wild type. Herein, we describe a previously unrecognized phenotype for the EPEC effectors EspG and Orf3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism*
  • Virulence Factors


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • EspG protein, E coli
  • Virulence Factors