Orientia tsutsugamushi strain ikeda ankyrin repeat-containing proteins recruit SCF1 ubiquitin ligase machinery via poxvirus-like F-Box motifs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External Institution(s)

  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • University of Louisville


Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3097-3109
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number19
StatusPublished - Jan 1 2015


A rising theme among intracellular microbes is the delivery of ankyrin repeat-containing effectors (Anks) that interact with target proteins to co-opt host cell functions. Orientia tsutsugamushi, an obligate intracellular bacterium and the etiologic agent of scrub typhus, encodes one of the largest Ank repertoires of any sequenced microorganism. They have been previously identified as type 1 secretion system substrates. Here, in silico and manual sequence analyses revealed that a large proportion of O. tsutsugamushi strain Ikeda Anks bear a eukaryotic/poxvirus-like F-box motif, which is known to recruit host cell SCF1 ubiquitin ligase machinery. We assessed the Anks for the ability to serve as F-box proteins. Coimmunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that F-box-containing Anks interact with overexpressed and/or endogenous SCF1 components. When coexpressed with FLAGAnk4_ 01 or FLAG-Ank9, a glutathione S-transferase (GST)-tagged version of the SCF1 component SKP1 localized to subcellular sites of FLAG-Ank accumulation. The abilities of recombinant Anks to interact and colocalize with SKP1 were F-box dependent. GST-SKP1 precipitated O. tsutsugamushi-derived Ank9 from infected host cells, verifying both that the pathogen expresses Ank9 during infection and the protein's capability to bind SKP1. Aligning O. tsutsugamushi, poxviral, and eukaryotic F-box sequences delineated three F-box residues that are highly conserved and likely to be functionally important. Substitution of these residues ablated the ability of GFP-Ank9 to interact with GST-SKP1. These results demonstrate that O. tsutsugamushi strain Ikeda Anks can co-opt host cell polyubiquitination machinery, provide the first evidence that an O. tsutsugamushi Ank does so during infection, and advance overall understanding of microbial F-box proteins.

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