Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28095608
Cell. Microbiol. 2017 19:e12726
Interactive link to article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/cmi.12726/abstract
Although phthiocerol dimycocerosates (DIM) are major virulence factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of human tuberculosis, little is known about their mechanism of action. Localized in the outer membrane of mycobacterial pathogens, DIM are predicted to interact with host cell membranes. Interaction with eukaryotic membranes is a property shared with another virulence factor of Mtb, the early secretory antigenic target EsxA (also known as ESAT-6). This small protein, which is secreted by the type VII secretion system ESX-1 (T7SS/ESX-1), is involved in phagosomal rupture and cell death induced by virulent mycobacteria inside host phagocytes. In this work, by the use of several knock-out and/or knock-in mutants of Mtb or Mycobacterium bovis BCG strains and different cell biological assays, we present conclusive evidence that ESX-1 and DIM act in concert to induce phagosomal membrane damage and rupture in infected macrophages, ultimately leading to the host cell apoptosis. These results identify an as yet unknown function for DIM in the infection process and open up a new research field for the study of the interaction of lipid and protein virulence factors of Mtb.