Structural Immunology

Disarming a cellular defense system

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Science  13 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6227, pp. 1214
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6227.1214-b

Macrophages are cells that engulf and destroy foreign substances in a process called phagocytosis. Lee et al. now show how a bacterium from the Yersinia family, which includes the bacteria that causes bubonic plague, acts to disable phagocytosis. Yersinia enterocolitica injects a protein called YopO into macrophages. A crystal structure shows that YopO binds to single host actin proteins in a way that prevents them from adding to actin filaments that form the skeleton of the cell. Moreover, the complex sequesters and phosphorylates proteins required for remodeling the actin skeleton, probably preventing the remodeling required for phagocytosis.

Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 10.1038/nsmb.2964 (2015).

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