Serine phosphorylation of cortactin is required for maximal host cell invasion by Campylobacter jejuni

Derrick R. Samuelson, Michael E. Konkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Campylobacter jejuni causes acute disease characterized by severe diarrhea containing blood and leukocytes, fever, and abdominal cramping. Disease caused by C. jejuni is dependent on numerous bacterial and host factors. C. jejuni invasion of the intestinal epithelial cells is seen in both clinical samples and animal models indicating that host cell invasion is, in part, necessary for disease. C. jejuni utilizes a flagellar Type III Secretion System (T3SS) to deliver the Campylobacter invasion antigens (Cia) to host cells. The Cia proteins modulate host cell signaling leading to actin cytoskeleton rearrangement necessary for C. jejuni host cell invasion, and are required for the development of disease. Results: This study was based on the hypothesis that the C. jejuni CiaD effector protein mediates Erk 1/2 dependent cytoskeleton rearrangement. We showed that CiaD was required for the maximal phosphorylation of Erk 1/2 by performing an immunoblot with a p-Erk 1/2 specific antibody and that Erk 1/2 participates in C. jejuni invasion of host cells by performing the gentamicin protection assay in the presence and absence of the PD98059 (a potent inhibitor of Erk 1/2 activation). CiaD was also found to be required for the maximal phosphorylation of cortactin S405 and S418, as judged by immunoblot analysis. The response of human INT 407 epithelial cells to infection with C. jejuni was evaluated by confocal microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to determine the extent of membrane ruffling. This analysis revealed that CiaD, Erk 1/2, and cortactin participate in C. jejuni-induced membrane ruffling. Finally, cortactin and N-WASP were found to be involved in C. jejuni invasion of host cells using siRNA to N-WASP, and siRNA to cortactin, coupled with the gentamicin protection assay. Conclusion: We conclude that CiaD is involved in the activation of Erk 1/2 and that activated Erk 1/2 facilitates C. jejuni invasion by phosphorylation of cortactin on serine 405 and 418. This is the first time that cortactin and N-WASP have been shown to be involved in C. jejuni invasion of host cells. These data also provide a mechanistic basis for the requirement of Erk 1/2 in C. jejuni-mediated cytoskeletal rearrangement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number82
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial pathogenesis
  • Effector protein
  • Erk 1/2
  • Invasion
  • N-WASP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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