Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 delivered by outer membrane vesicles of uropathogenic Escherichia coli attenuates polymorphonuclear leukocyte antimicrobial activity and chemotaxis

Infect Immun. 2006 Aug;74(8):4401-8. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00637-06.


Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1), a toxin produced by many strains of uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), constitutively activates small GTPases of the Rho family by deamidating a single amino acid within these target proteins. Such activated GTPases not only stimulate actin polymerization within affected cells but also, as we previously reported, decrease membrane fluidity on mouse polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs). In that same investigation we found that this diminished membrane movement impedes the clustering of the complement receptor CD11b/CD18 on PMNs and, in turn, decreases PMN phagocytic capacity and microbicidal activity on PMNs in direct contact with CNF1-expressing UPEC as well as on those in proximity to wild-type UPEC. The latter observation suggested to us that CNF1 is released from neighboring bacteria, although at the time of initiation of the study described here, no specific mechanism for export of CNF1 from UPEC had been described. Here we present evidence that CNF1 is released from the CNF1-expressing UPEC strain CP9 (serotype O4/H5/K54) in a complex with outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) and that these CNF1-bearing vesicles transfer biologically active CNF1 to PMNs and attenuate phagocyte function. Furthermore, we show that CNF1-bearing vesicles act in a dose-dependent fashion on PMNs to inhibit their chemotactic response to formyl-Met-Leu-Phe, while purified CNF1 does not. We conclude that OMVs provide a means for delivery of CNF1 from a UPEC strain to PMNs and thus negatively affect the efficacy of the acute inflammatory response to these organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Toxins / pharmacology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1