The obligate intracellular pathogen Coxiella burnetii is the causative agent of the zoonosis Q fever. C. burnetii infection can have severe outcomes due to the development of chronic infection. To establish and maintain an infection, C. burnetii depends on a functional type IVB secretion system (T4BSS) and, thus, on the translocation of effector proteins into the host cell. Here, we showed that the C. burnetii T4BSS effector protein CaeB targets the conserved endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress sensor IRE1 during ER stress in mammalian and plant cells. CaeB-induced upregulation of IRE1 RNase activity was essential for CaeB-mediated inhibition of ER stress-induced cell death. Our data reveal a novel role for CaeB in ER stress signalling modulation and demonstrate that CaeB is involved in pathogenicity in vivo. Furthermore, we provide evidence that C. burnetii infection leads to modulation of the ER stress sensors IRE1 and PERK, but not ATF6 during ER stress. While the upregulation of the RNase activity of IRE1 during ER stress depends on CaeB, modulation of PERK is CaeB independent, suggesting that C. burnetii encodes several factors influencing ER stress during infection.
Keywords: Coxiella burnetii; ER stress; Nicotiana benthamiana; apoptosis; effector proteins; type IV secretion system.
© 2020 The Authors. Cellular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.