Arginine-specific mono ADP-ribosylation in vitro of antimicrobial peptides by ADP-ribosylating toxins

Author(s): Castagnini M,Picchianti M, Talluri E, Biagini M, Del Vecchio M, et al.


Among the several toxins used by pathogenic bacteria to target eukaryotic host cells, proteins that exert ADP-ribosylation activity represent a large and studied family of dangerous and potentially lethal toxins. These proteins alter cell physiology catalyzing the transfer of the ADP-ribose unit from NAD to cellular proteins involved in key metabolic pathways. In the present study, we tested the capability of four of these toxins, to ADP-ribosylate α- and β- defensins. Cholera toxin (CT) from Vibrio cholerae and heat labile enterotoxin (LT) from Escherichia coli both modified the human α-defensin (HNP-1) and β- defensin-1 (HBD1), as efficiently as the mammalian mono-ADP-ribosyltransferase-1. Pseudomonas aeruginosa exoenzyme S was inactive on both HNP-1 and HBD1. Neisseria meningitidis NarE poorly recognized HNP-1 as a substrate but it was completely inactive on HBD1. On the other hand, HNP-1 strongly influenced NarE inhibiting its transferase activity while enhancing auto-ADP-ribosylation. We conclude that only some arginine-specific ADP-ribosylating toxins recognize defensins as substrates in vitro. Modifications that alter the biological activities of antimicrobial peptides may be relevant for the innate immune response. In particular, ADP-ribosylation of antimicrobial peptides may represent a novel escape mechanism adopted by pathogens to facilitate colonization of host tissues.

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