Macrophages target Listeria monocytogenes by two discrete non-canonical autophagy pathways

Autophagy. 2022 May;18(5):1090-1107. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2021.1969765. Epub 2021 Sep 5.


Non-canonical autophagy pathways decorate single-membrane vesicles with Atg8-family proteins such as MAP1LC3/LC3 (microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3). Phagosomes containing the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (L.m.) can be targeted by a non-canonical autophagy pathway called LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP), which substantially contributes to the anti-listerial activity of macrophages and immunity. We here characterized a second non-canonical autophagy pathway targeting L.m.-containing phagosomes, which is induced by damage caused to the phagosomal membrane by the pore-forming toxin of L.m., listeriolysin O. This pore-forming toxin-induced non-canonical autophagy pathway (PINCA) was the only autophagic pathway evoked in tissue macrophages deficient for the NADPH oxidase CYBB/NOX2 that produces the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are required for LAP induction. Similarly, also bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM) exclusively targeted L.m. by PINCA as they completely failed to induce LAP because of insufficient production of ROS through CYBB, in part, due to low expression of some CYBB complex subunits. Priming of BMDM with proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF and IFNG/IFNγ increased ROS production by CYBB and endowed them with the ability to target L.m. by LAP. Targeting of L.m. by LAP remained relatively rare, though, preventing LAP from substantially contributing to the anti-listerial activity of BMDM. Similar to LAP, the targeting of L.m.-containing phagosomes by PINCA promoted their fusion with lysosomes. Surprisingly, however, this did not substantially contribute to anti-listerial activity of BMDM. Thus, in contrast to LAP, PINCA does not have clear anti-listerial function suggesting that the two different non-canonical autophagy pathways targeting L.m. may have discrete functions.Abbreviations: actA/ActA: actin assembly-inducing protein A; ATG: autophagy-related; BMDM: Bone marrow-derived macrophages; CALCOCO2/NDP52: calcium-binding and coiled-coil domain-containing protein 2; CYBA/p22phox: cytochrome b-245 light chain; CYBB/NOX2: cytochrome b(558) subunit beta; E. coli: Escherichia coli; IFNG/IFNγ: interferon gamma; L.m.: Listeria monocytogenes; LAP: LC3-associated phagocytosis; LGALS: galectin; LLO: listeriolysin O; MAP1LC3/LC3: microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3; NCF1/p47phox: neutrophil cytosol factor 1; NCF2/p67phox: neutrophil cytosol factor 2; NCF4/p67phox: neutrophil cytosol factor 4; Peritoneal macrophages: PM; PINCA: pore-forming toxin-induced non-canonical autophagy; plc/PLC: 1-phosphatidylinositol phosphodiesterase; PMA: phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate; RB1CC1/FIP200: RB1-inducible coiled-coil protein 1; ROS: reactive oxygen species; S. aureus: Staphylococcus aureus; S. flexneri: Shigella flexneri; SQSTM1/p62: sequestosome 1; S. typhimurium: Salmonella typhimurium; T3SS: type III secretion system; TNF: tumor necrosis factor; ULK: unc-51 like autophagy activating kinase; PM: peritoneal macrophages; WT: wild type.

Keywords: CYBB/NOX2; LC3-associated phagocytosis; Listeria monocytogenes; PINCA; ULK; macrophage priming; macrophages; membrane damage; non-canonical autophagy; reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy* / physiology
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Listeria monocytogenes* / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species

Grant support

This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) grants to M.S. (SCHR 1627/2) and Köln Fortune grants to A.G. (278/2019) and M.H. (302/2020).