Mycobacterium tuberculosis' success as a pathogen comes from its ability to evade degradation by macrophages. Normally macrophages clear microorganisms that activate pathogen-recognition receptors (PRRs) through a lysosomal-trafficking pathway called "LC3-associated phagocytosis" (LAP). Although Mtuberculosis activates numerous PRRs, for reasons that are poorly understood LAP does not substantially contribute to Mtuberculosis control. LAP depends upon reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by NADPH oxidase, but Mtuberculosis fails to generate a robust oxidative response. Here, we show that CpsA, a LytR-CpsA-Psr (LCP) domain-containing protein, is required for Mtuberculosis to evade killing by NADPH oxidase and LAP. Unlike phagosomes containing wild-type bacilli, phagosomes containing the ΔcpsA mutant recruited NADPH oxidase, produced ROS, associated with LC3, and matured into antibacterial lysosomes. Moreover, CpsA was sufficient to impair NADPH oxidase recruitment to fungal particles that are normally cleared by LAP. Intracellular survival of the ΔcpsA mutant was largely restored in macrophages missing LAP components (Nox2, Rubicon, Beclin, Atg5, Atg7, or Atg16L1) but not in macrophages defective in a related, canonical autophagy pathway (Atg14, Ulk1, or cGAS). The ΔcpsA mutant was highly impaired in vivo, and its growth was partially restored in mice deficient in NADPH oxidase, Atg5, or Atg7, demonstrating that CpsA makes a significant contribution to the resistance of Mtuberculosis to NADPH oxidase and LC3 trafficking in vivo. Overall, our findings reveal an essential role of CpsA in innate immune evasion and suggest that LCP proteins have functions beyond their previously known role in cell-wall metabolism.
Keywords: LC3-associated phagocytosis; LytR-CpsA-Psr; M. tuberculosis; NADPH oxidase; autophagy.