Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30814604
Sci Rep 2019 Feb;9(1):2906
Efflux pumps are membrane protein complexes conserved in all living organisms. Beyond being involved in antibiotic extrusion in several bacteria, efflux pumps are emerging as relevant players in pathogen-host interactions. We have investigated on the possible role of the efflux pump network in Shigella flexneri, the etiological agent of bacillary dysentery. We have found that S. flexneri has retained 14 of the 20 pumps characterized in Escherichia coli and that their expression is differentially modulated during the intracellular life of Shigella. In particular, the emrKY operon, encoding an efflux pump of the Major Facilitator Superfamily, is specifically and highly induced in Shigella-infected U937 macrophage-like cells and is activated in response to a combination of high K and acidic pH, which are sensed by the EvgS/EvgA two-component system. Notably, we show that following S. flexneri infection, macrophage cytosol undergoes a mild reduction of intracellular pH, permitting EvgA to trigger the emrKY activation. Finally, we present data suggesting that EmrKY is required for the survival of Shigella in the harsh macrophage environment, highlighting for the first time the key role of an efflux pump during the Shigella invasive process.