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Host Serine/Threonine Kinases mTOR and Protein Kinase C-α Promote InlB-Mediated Entry of Listeria monocytogenes

The bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes causes foodborne illnesses resulting in gastroenteritis, meningitis, or abortion. Listeria induces its internalization into some human cells through interaction of the bacterial surface protein InlB with the host receptor tyrosine kinase Met. InlB-dependent entry requires localized polymerization of the host actin cytoskeleton. The signal transduction pathways that act downstream of Met to regulate actin filament assembly or other processes during Listeria uptake remain incompletely characterized. Here, we demonstrate important roles for the human serine/threonine kinases mTOR and protein kinase C-α (PKC-α) in InlB-dependent entry. Experiments involving RNA interference (RNAi) indicated that two multiprotein complexes containing mTOR, mTORC1 and mTORC2, are each needed for efficient internalization of Listeria into cells of the human cell line HeLa. InlB stimulated Met-dependent phosphorylation of mTORC1 or mTORC2 substrates, demonstrating activation of both mTOR-containing complexes. RNAi studies indicated that the mTORC1 effectors 4E-BP1 and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and the mTORC2 substrate PKC-α each control Listeria uptake. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of PKC-α reduced the internalization of Listeria and the accumulation of actin filaments that normally accompanies InlB-mediated entry. Collectively, our results identify mTOR and PKC-α to be host factors exploited by Listeria to promote infection. PKC-α controls Listeria entry, at least in part, by regulating the actin cytoskeleton downstream of the Met receptor.

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