The phospholipid-repair system LplT/Aas in Gram-negative bacteria protects the bacterial membrane envelope from host phospholipase A2 attack.

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Secretory phospholipases A2 (sPLA2) are potent components of mammalian innate-immunity antibacterial mechanisms. sPLA2 enzymes attack bacteria by hydrolyzing bacterial membrane phospholipids, causing membrane disorganization and cell lysis. However, most Gram-negative bacteria are naturally resistant to sPLA2. Here we report a novel resistance mechanism to mammalian sPLA2 in Escherichia coli, mediated by a phospholipid repair system consisting of the lysophospholipid transporter LplT and the acyltransferase Aas in the cytoplasmic membrane.  Mutation of lplT or aas gene abolished bacterial lysophospholipid acylation activity and drastically increased bacterial susceptibility to the combined actions of inflammatory fluid components and sPLA2, resulting in bulk phospholipid degradation and loss of colony-forming ability. sPLA2-mediated hydrolysis of the three major bacterial phospholipids exhibited distinctive kinetics and deacylation of cardiolipin to its monoacyl-derivative closely paralleled bacterial death. Characterization of the membrane envelope in lplT- or aas-knockout mutant bacteria revealed reduced membrane packing and disruption of lipid asymmetry with more phosphatidylethanolamine present in the outer leaflet of the outer membrane. Moreover, modest accumulation of lysophospholipids in these mutant bacteria destabilized the inner membrane and rendered outer membrane-depleted spheroplasts much more sensitive to sPLA2. These findings indicated that  LplT/Aas inactivation perturbs both the outer and inner membranes by bypassing bacterial membrane maintenance mechanisms in order to trigger specific interfacial activation of sPLA2. We conclude that the LplT/Aas system is important for maintaining the integrity of the membrane envelope in Gram-negative bacteria. Our insights may help inform new therapeutic strategies to enhance host sPLA2 antimicrobial activity.





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Lin, Yibin, Mikhail Bogdanov, Shuo Lu, Ziqiang Guan, William Margolin, Jerrold Weiss and Lei Zheng (2018). The phospholipid-repair system LplT/Aas in Gram-negative bacteria protects the bacterial membrane envelope from host phospholipase A2 attack. J Biol Chem. 10.1074/jbc.RA117.001231 Retrieved from

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Ziqiang Guan

Research Professor in Biochemistry

We develop and apply mass spectrometry techniques to address biochemical and biomedical questions that are lipid-related. Research projects include:

1) Structural lipidomics

o   Develop and apply high resolution tandem mass spectrometry-based lipidomics for the discovery, structural elucidation and functional study of novel lipids.

2) Elucidation of novel pathways/enzymes of lipid biosynthesis and metabolism

o   Genetic, biochemical and MS approaches are employed to identify the substrates and pathways involved in lipid biosynthesis and metabolism

3) Identification of lipid biomarkers of genetic diseases and cancers

o    Provide molecular insights into the disease mechanisms, as well as to serve as the diagnostic and prognostic tools of diseases.

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