Entamoeba histolytica exploits the autophagy pathway in macrophages to trigger inflammation in disease pathogenesis

Mucosal Immunol. 2021 Sep;14(5):1038-1054. doi: 10.1038/s41385-021-00408-4. Epub 2021 May 7.


The mechanism whereby Entamoeba histolytica (Eh) binding with macrophages at the intercellular junction triggers aggressive pro-inflammatory responses in disease pathogenesis is not well understood. The host intracellular protein degradation process autophagy and its regulatory proteins are involved in maintenance of cellular homeostasis and excessive inflammatory responses. In this study we unraveled how Eh hijacks the autophagy process in macrophages to dysregulate pro-inflammatory responses. Direct contact of live Eh with macrophages activated caspase-6 that induced rapid proteolytic degradation of the autophagy ATG16L1 protein complex independent of NLRP3 inflammasome and caspase-3/8 activation. Crohn's disease susceptible ATG16L1 T300A variant was highly susceptible to Eh-mediated degradation that augmented pro-inflammatory cytokines in mice. Quantitative proteomics revealed downregulation of autophagy and vesicle-mediated transport and upregulation of cysteine-type endopeptidase pathways in response to Eh. We conclude during Eh-macrophage outside-in signaling, ATG16L1 protein complex plays an overlooked regulatory role in shaping the pro-inflammatory landscape in amebiasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy* / immunology
  • Biomarkers
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Computational Biology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Entamoeba histolytica / physiology*
  • Entamoebiasis / etiology*
  • Entamoebiasis / metabolism*
  • Entamoebiasis / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Proteome
  • Proteomics / methods
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Caspases

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