Targeting of the Yersinia pestis YopM protein into HeLa cells and intracellular trafficking to the nucleus

Mol Microbiol. 1998 Dec;30(5):1051-65. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1998.01135.x.


The YopM virulence protein of Yersinia pestis has been described as binding human alpha-thrombin and inhibiting thrombin-induced platelet aggregation in vitro. However, recent studies have shown that a YopM-CyaA fusion protein could be targeted vectorially into eukaryotic cells through the Yersinia type III secretion system. In this study, our objective was to characterize YopM's fate in more detail. We followed YopM in the culture medium and inside infected HeLa cells. We confirmed that the native YopM is targeted into HeLa cells, where it is insensitive to exogenous trypsin. The bacteria must be surface located to target YopM, and YopB and YopD are necessary, whereas the LcrE protein (called also YopN) makes this process more efficient. Immunofluorescence localization revealed that YopM, in contrast to YopE, is not only targeted to the cytoplasm but also trafficks to the cell's nucleus by means of a vesicle-associated pathway that is strongly inhibited by brefeldin A, perturbed by monensin or bafilomycin A1 and dependent upon microtubules (decreased by colchicine and nocodazole). These findings revealed a novel interaction of Yersinia pestis with its eukaryotic host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Extracts
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Fluid
  • Yersinia pestis / genetics
  • Yersinia pestis / metabolism*
  • Yersinia pestis / pathogenicity


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Cell Extracts
  • yopE protein, Yersinia
  • yopM protein, Yersinia