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The colibactin genotoxin generates DNA interstrand cross-links in infected cells

Abstract : peptide-polyketide synthases as inactive prodrugs called precolibactins, which are then converted to colibactins by deacylation for DNA-damaging effects. Colibactins are bona fide virulence factors and are suspected of promoting colorectal carcinogenesis when produced by intestinal E. coli. Natural active colibactins have not been isolated, and how they induce DNA damage in the eukaryotic host cell is poorly characterized. Here, we show that DNA strands are cross-linked covalently when exposed to enterobacteria producing colibactins. DNA cross-linking is abrogated in a clbP mutant unable to deacetylate precolibactins or by adding the colibactin self-resistance protein ClbS, confirming the involvement of the mature forms of colibactins. A similar DNA-damaging mechanism is observed in cellulo, where interstrand cross-links are detected in the genomic DNA of cultured human cells exposed to colibactin-producing bacteria. The intoxicated cells exhibit replication stress, activation of ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related kinase (ATR), and recruitment of the DNA cross-link repair Fanconi anemia protein D2 (FANCD2) protein. In contrast, inhibition of ATR or knockdown of FANCD2 reduces the survival of cells exposed to colibactin-producing bacteria. These findings demonstrate that DNA interstrand cross-linking is the critical mechanism of colibactin-induced DNA damage in infected cells.
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Nadège Bossuet-Greif, Julien Vignard, Frederic Taieb, Gladys Mirey, Damien Dubois, et al.. The colibactin genotoxin generates DNA interstrand cross-links in infected cells. mBio, American Society for Microbiology, 2018, 9 (2), pp.e02393-17. ⟨10.1128/mBio.02393-17⟩. ⟨hal-02627565⟩

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