5 years ago

<i>Toxoplasma gondii</i> induces FAK-Src-STAT3 signaling during infection of host cells that prevents parasite targeting by autophagy

Jennifer Van Grol, Sarah J. Parsons, Luis Muniz-Feliciano, Yalitza Lopez Corcino, William P. Schiemman, Jose-Andres C. Portillo, So Jung Lee, Carlos S. Subauste
Targeting of Toxoplasma gondii by autophagy is an effective mechanism by which host cells kill the protozoan. Thus, the parasite must avoid autophagic targeting to survive. Here we show that the mammalian cytoplasmic molecule Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) becomes activated during invasion of host cells. Activated FAK appears to accompany the formation of the moving junction (as assessed by expression the parasite protein RON4). FAK activation was inhibited by approaches that impaired β1 and β3 integrin signaling. FAK caused activation of Src that in turn mediated Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) phosphorylation at the unique Y845 residue. Expression of Src-resistant Y845F EGFR mutant markedly inhibited ROP16-independent activation of STAT3 in host cells. Activation of FAK, Y845 EGFR or STAT3 prevented activation of PKR and eIF2α, key stimulators of autophagy. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of FAK, Src, EGFR phosphorylation at Y845, or STAT3 caused accumulation of the autophagy protein LC3 and LAMP-1 around the parasite and parasite killing dependent on autophagy proteins (ULK1 and Beclin 1) and lysosomal enzymes. Parasite killing was inhibited by expression of dominant negative PKR. Thus, T. gondii activates a FAK→Src→Y845-EGFR→STAT3 signaling axis within mammalian cells, thereby enabling the parasite to survive by avoiding autophagic targeting through a mechanism likely dependent on preventing activation of PKR and eIF2α.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006671

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