Misregulation of the signaling axis formed by the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) EphA2 and its ligand, ephrinA1, causes aberrant cell-cell contacts that contribute to metastasis. Solid tumors are characterized by an acidic extracellular medium. We intend to take advantage of this tumor feature to design new molecules that specifically target tumors. We created a novel pH-dependent transmembrane peptide, TYPE7, by altering the sequence of the transmembrane domain of EphA2. TYPE7 is highly soluble and interacts with the surface of lipid membranes at neutral pH, while acidity triggers transmembrane insertion. TYPE7 binds to endogenous EphA2 and reduces Akt phosphorylation and cell migration as effectively as ephrinA1. Interestingly, we found large differences in juxtamembrane tyrosine phosphorylation and the extent of EphA2 clustering when compared TYPE7 with activation by ephrinA1. This work shows that it is possible to design new pH-triggered membrane peptides to activate RTK and gain insights on its activation mechanism.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Francisco N Barrera
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Patricia Bassereau, Institut Curie, France
© 2018, Alves et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The seventh pandemic of the diarrheal cholera disease, which began in 1960, is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Its environmental persistence provoking recurring sudden outbreaks is enabled by V. cholerae's rapid adaption to changing environments involving sensory proteins like ToxR and ToxS. Located at the inner membrane, ToxR and ToxS react to environmental stimuli like bile acid, thereby inducing survival strategies e.g. bile resistance and virulence regulation. The presented crystal structure of the sensory domains of ToxR and ToxS in combination with multiple bile acid interaction studies, reveals that a bile binding pocket of ToxS is only properly folded upon binding to ToxR. Our data proposes an interdependent functionality between ToxR transcriptional activity and ToxS sensory function. These findings support the previously suggested link between ToxRS and VtrAC-like co-component systems. Besides VtrAC, ToxRS is now the only experimentally determined structure within this recently defined superfamily, further emphasizing its significance. In-depth analysis of the ToxRS complex reveals its remarkable conservation across various Vibrio species, underlining the significance of conserved residues in the ToxS barrel and the more diverse ToxR sensory domain. Unravelling the intricate mechanisms governing ToxRS's environmental sensing capabilities, provides a promising tool for disruption of this vital interaction, ultimately inhibiting Vibrio's survival and virulence. Our findings hold far-reaching implications for all Vibrio strains that rely on the ToxRS system as a shared sensory cornerstone for adapting to their surroundings.
The transcriptional regulator SsrB acts as a switch between virulent and biofilm lifestyles of non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. During infection, phosphorylated SsrB activates genes on Salmonella Pathogenicity Island-2 (SPI-2) essential for survival and replication within the macrophage. Low pH inside the vacuole is a key inducer of expression and SsrB activation. Previous studies demonstrated an increase in SsrB protein levels and DNA-binding affinity at low pH; the molecular basis was unknown (Liew et al., 2019). This study elucidates its underlying mechanism and in vivo significance. Employing single-molecule and transcriptional assays, we report that the SsrB DNA-binding domain alone (SsrBc) is insufficient to induce acid pH-sensitivity. Instead, His12, a conserved residue in the receiver domain confers pH sensitivity to SsrB allosterically. Acid-dependent DNA binding was highly cooperative, suggesting a new configuration of SsrB oligomers at SPI-2-dependent promoters. His12 also plays a role in SsrB phosphorylation; substituting His12 reduced phosphorylation at neutral pH and abolished pH-dependent differences. Failure to flip the switch in SsrB renders Salmonella avirulent and represents a potential means of controlling virulence.