Host pathogen interactions: determining the role of the Coxiella burnetii virulence protein CinF in host autophagy induction

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Bioinformatics searches indicated with high degrees of confidence that CinF, a Coxiella burnetii virulence protein, is a fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (FBP1) enzyme most closely related to the archaeal species, Thermoproteus neutrophilus. However, in this study, I observed a lack of FBP1 enzymatic activity for CinF from C. burnetii in two biochemical assays. I hypothesized that C. burnetii utilizes the bacterial effector protein, CinF, to induce autophagy in the host cell and to recruit and promote fusion with autophagic vesicles to gain the nutrients and components necessary for its proliferation and for expansion of the Coxiella containing vacuole (CCV). Results obtained in this study indicate that despite the lack of metabolic activity expected from bioinformatics, the presence of CinF in HeLa cell culture increased autophagic flux, thus increasing the amount of microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-light chain 3 (LC3) detected in cells transfected with cinF when compared to mock transfected cells and cells expressing a catalytic mutant.