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A patatin-like phospholipase mediates Rickettsia parkeri escape from host membranes.


Rickettsia species of the spotted fever group are arthropod-borne obligate intracellular bacteria that can cause mild to severe human disease. These bacteria invade host cells, replicate in the cell cytosol, and spread from cell to cell. To access the host cytosol and avoid immune detection, they escape membrane-bound vacuoles by expressing factors that disrupt host membranes. Here, we show that a patatin-like phospholipase A2 enzyme (Pat1) facilitates Rickettsia parkeri infection by promoting escape from host membranes and cell-cell spread. Pat1 is important for infection in a mouse model and, at the cellular level, is crucial for efficiently escaping from single and double membrane-bound vacuoles into the host cytosol, and for avoiding host galectins that mark damaged membranes. Pat1 is also important for avoiding host polyubiquitin, preventing recruitment of autophagy receptor p62, and promoting actin-based motility and cell-cell spread.

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