The role of microsporidian polar tube protein 4 (PTP4) in host cell infection

Bing Han, Valérie Polonais, Tatsuki Sugi, Rama Yakubu, Peter M. Takvorian, Ann Cali, Keith Maier, Mengxian Long, Matthew Levy, Herbert B. Tanowitz, Guoqing Pan, Frédéric Delbac, Zeyang Zhou, Louis M. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Microsporidia have been identified as pathogens that have important effects on our health, food security and economy. A key to the success of these obligate intracellular pathogens is their unique invasion organelle, the polar tube, which delivers the nucleus containing sporoplasm into host cells during invasion. Due to the size of the polar tube, the rapidity of polar tube discharge and sporoplasm passage, and the absence of genetic techniques for the manipulation of microsporidia, study of this organelle has been difficult and there is relatively little known regarding polar tube formation and the function of the proteins making up this structure. Herein, we have characterized polar tube protein 4 (PTP4) from the microsporidium Encephalitozoon hellem and found that a monoclonal antibody to PTP4 labels the tip of the polar tube suggesting that PTP4 might be involved in a direct interaction with host cell proteins during invasion. Further analyses employing indirect immunofluorescence (IFA), enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) assays confirmed that PTP4 binds to mammalian cells. The addition of either recombinant PTP4 protein or anti-PTP4 antibody reduced microsporidian infection of its host cells in vitro. Proteomic analysis of PTP4 bound to host cell membranes purified by immunoprecipitation identified transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) as a potential host cell interacting partner for PTP4. Additional experiments revealed that knocking out TfR1, adding TfR1 recombinant protein into cell culture, or adding anti-TfR1 antibody into cell culture significantly reduced microsporidian infection rates. These results indicate that PTP4 is an important protein competent of the polar tube involved in the mechanism of host cell infection utilized by these pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1006341
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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