LrrkA, a kinase with leucine-rich repeats, links folate sensing with Kil2 activity and intracellular killing

Cell Microbiol. 2020 Jan;22(1):e13129. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13129. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Phagocytic cells ingest bacteria by phagocytosis and kill them efficiently inside phagolysosomes. The molecular mechanisms involved in intracellular killing and their regulation are complex and still incompletely understood. Dictyostelium discoideum has been used as a model to discover and to study new gene products involved in intracellular killing of ingested bacteria. In this study, we performed random mutagenesis of Dictyostelium cells and isolated a mutant defective for growth on bacteria. This mutant is characterized by the genetic inactivation of the lrrkA gene, which encodes a protein with a kinase domain and leucine-rich repeats. LrrkA knockout (KO) cells kill ingested Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria inefficiently. This defect is not additive to the killing defect observed in kil2 KO cells, suggesting that the function of Kil2 is partially controlled by LrrkA. Indeed, lrrkA KO cells exhibit a phenotype similar to that of kil2 KO cells: Intraphagosomal proteolysis is inefficient, and both intraphagosomal killing and proteolysis are restored upon exogenous supplementation with magnesium ions. Bacterially secreted folate stimulates intracellular killing in Dictyostelium cells, but this stimulation is lost in cells with genetic inactivation of kil2, lrrkA, or far1. Together, these results indicate that the stimulation of intracellular killing by folate involves Far1 (the cell surface receptor for folate), LrrkA, and Kil2. This study is the first identification of a signalling pathway regulating intraphagosomal bacterial killing in Dictyostelium cells.

Keywords: Dictyostelium; DrkD; Kil2; Klebsiella pneumoniae; LrrkA; intracellular killing; magnesium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dictyostelium / enzymology*
  • Dictyostelium / genetics
  • Dictyostelium / microbiology
  • Folic Acid / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Intracellular Space / microbiology
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / metabolism
  • Leucine / chemistry
  • Phagocytosis
  • Phagosomes / microbiology*
  • Phosphotransferases / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Folic Acid
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Leucine