RNAi screen of endoplasmic reticulum-associated host factors reveals a role for IRE1alpha in supporting Brucella replication. Academic Article uri icon


  • Brucella species are facultative intracellular bacterial pathogens that cause brucellosis, a global zoonosis of profound importance. Although recent studies have demonstrated that Brucella spp. replicate within an intracellular compartment that contains endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident proteins, the molecular mechanisms by which the pathogen secures this replicative niche remain obscure. Here, we address this issue by exploiting Drosophila S2 cells and RNA interference (RNAi) technology to develop a genetically tractable system that recapitulates critical aspects of mammalian cell infection. After validating this system by demonstrating a shared requirement for phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activities in supporting Brucella infection in both host cell systems, we performed an RNAi screen of 240 genes, including 110 ER-associated genes, for molecules that mediate bacterial interactions with the ER. We uncovered 52 evolutionarily conserved host factors that, when depleted, inhibited or increased Brucella infection. Strikingly, 29 of these factors had not been previously suggested to support bacterial infection of host cells. The most intriguing of these was inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1), a transmembrane kinase that regulates the eukaryotic unfolded protein response (UPR). We employed IRE1alpha(-/-) murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to demonstrate a role for this protein in supporting Brucella infection of mammalian cells, and thereby, validated the utility of the Drosophila S2 cell system for uncovering novel Brucella host factors. Finally, we propose a model in which IRE1alpha, and other ER-associated genes uncovered in our screen, mediate Brucella replication by promoting autophagosome biogenesis.

published proceedings

  • PLoS Pathog

altmetric score

  • 4

author list (cited authors)

  • Qin, Q., Pei, J., Ancona, V., Shaw, B. D., Ficht, T. A., & de Figueiredo, P.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Qin, Qing-Ming||Pei, Jianwu||Ancona, Veronica||Shaw, Brian D||Ficht, Thomas A||de Figueiredo, Paul

editor list (cited editors)

  • Schneider, D. S.

publication date

  • July 2008