Upon infection of the gastric epithelial cells, the Helicobacter pylori cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA) virulence protein is injected into the epithelial cells via the type IV secretion system (TFSS), which is dependent on cholesterol. Translocated CagA is targeted by the membrane-recruited c-Src family kinases in which a tyrosine residue in the Glu-Pro-Ile-Tyr-Ala (EPIYA)-repeat region, which can be phosphorylated, induces cellular responses, including interleukin-8 (IL-8) secretion and hummingbird phenotype formation. In this study, we explored the role of EPIYA-containing C-terminal domain (CTD) in CagA tethering to the membrane lipid rafts and in IL-8 activity. We found that disruption of the lipid rafts reduced the level of CagA translocation/phosphorylation as well as CagA-mediated IL-8 secretion. By CagA truncated mutagenesis, we identified that the CTD, rather than the N-terminal domain, was responsible for CagA tethering to the plasma membrane and association with detergent-resistant membranes, leading to CagA-induced IL-8 promoter activity. Our results suggest that CagA CTD-containing EPIYAs directly interact with cholesterol-rich microdomains that induce efficient IL-8 secretion in the epithelial cells.
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