Arcanolysin, produced by the human pathogen Arcanobacterium haemolyticum
, is a cholesterol-dependent cytolysin. To mediate the pore-formation process, arcanolysin is secreted by A. haemolyticum
and then must interact with cholesterol embedded within a host membrane. However, arcanolysin must compete with membrane components, such as the phospholipid sphingomyelin, to interact with cholesterol and form pores. Cholesterol forms transient hydrogen bonds with the extracellular portion of sphingomyelin, shielding cholesterol from extracellular factors, including arcanolysin. A. haemolyticum
also produces a sphingomyelin-specific phospholipase D, which removes the choline head from sphingomyelin, leaving cyclic-ceramide phosphate and eliminating the potential for cholesterol sequestration. We hypothesized that the enzymatic activity of phospholipase D decreases sphingomyelin-mediated cholesterol sequestration and increases cholesterol accessibility for arcanolysin. Using purified arcanolysin and phospholipase D, we demonstrate that the enzymatic activity of phospholipase D is necessary to promote arcanolysin-mediated hemolysis in both time- and concentration-dependent manners. Phospholipase D promotion of arcanolysin-mediated cytotoxicity was confirmed in Detroit 562 epithelial cells. Furthermore, we determined that incubating phospholipase D with erythrocytes corresponds with an increase in the amount of arcanolysin bound to host membranes. This observation suggests that phospholipase D promotes arcanolysin-mediated cytotoxicity by increasing the ability of arcanolysin to bind to a host membrane.
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