A novel FK-506-binding-like protein that lacks peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity is involved in intracellular infection and in vivo virulence of Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen causing melioidosis, an often fatal infectious disease that is endemic in several tropical and subtropical areas around the world. We previously described a Ptk2 cell-based plaque assay screening system of B. pseudomallei transposon mutants that led to the identification of several novel virulence determinants. Using this approach we identified a mutant with reduced plaque formation in which the BPSL0918 gene was disrupted. BPSL0918 encodes a putative FK-506-binding protein (FKBP) representing a family of proteins that typically possess peptidyl-prolyl isomerase (PPIase) activity. A B. pseudomallei ΔBPSL0918 mutant showed a severely impaired ability to resist intracellular killing and to replicate within primary macrophages. Complementation of the mutant fully restored its ability to grow intracellularly. Moreover, B. pseudomallei ΔBPSL0918 was significantly attenuated in a murine model of infection. Structural modelling confirmed a modified FKBP fold of the BPSL0918-encoded protein but unlike virulence-associated FKBPs from other pathogenic bacteria, recombinant BPSL0918 protein did not possess PPIase activity in vitro. In accordance with this observation BPSL0918 exhibits several mutations in residues that have been proposed to mediate PPIase activity in other FKBPs. To our knowledge this B. pseudomallei FKBP represents the first example of this protein family which lacks PPIase activity but is important in intracellular infection of a bacterial pathogen.