Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 31761719
Link to DOI – S1931-3128(19)30528-110.1016/j.chom.2019.10.004
Cell Host Microbe 2019 12; 26(6): 823-835.e11
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) perform key cellular activities by controlling the function of bound RNAs. The widely held assumption that RBPs are strictly intracellular has been challenged by the discovery of secreted RBPs. However, extracellular RBPs have been described in eukaryotes, while secreted bacterial RBPs have not been reported. Here, we show that the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes secretes a small RBP that we named Zea. We show that Zea binds a subset of L. monocytogenes RNAs, causing their accumulation in the extracellular medium. Furthermore, during L. monocytogenes infection, Zea binds RIG-I, the non-self-RNA innate immunity sensor, potentiating interferon-β production. Mouse infection studies reveal that Zea affects L. monocytogenes virulence. Together, our results unveil that bacterial RNAs can be present extracellularly in association with RBPs, acting as “social RNAs” to trigger a host response during infection.