Thioredoxin-mediated alteration of protein content and cytotoxicity of Acinetobacter baumannii outer membrane vesicles

Swathi Shrihari, Holly C. May, Jieh Juen Yu, Sara B. Papp, James P. Chambers, M. Neal Guentzel, Bernard P. Arulanandam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Acinetobacter baumannii is a Gram-negative bacterium responsible for many hospital-acquired infections including ventilator-associated pneumonia and sepsis. We have previously identified A. baumannii thioredoxin A protein (TrxA) as a virulence factor with a multitude of functions including reduction of protein disulfides. TrxA plays an important role in resistance to oxidative stress facilitating host immune evasion in part by alteration of type IV pili and cell surface hydrophobicity. Other virulence factors such as outer membrane vesicles (OMV) shed by bacteria have been shown to mediate bacterial intercellular communication and modulate host immune response. To investigate whether OMVs can be modulated by TrxA, we isolated OMVs from wild type (WT) and TrxA-deficient (ΔtrxA) A. baumannii clinical isolate Ci79 and carried out a functional and proteomic comparison. Despite attenuation of ΔtrxA in a mouse challenge model, pulmonary inoculation of ΔtrxA OMVs resulted in increased lung permeability compared to WT OMVs. Furthermore, ΔtrxA OMVs induced more J774 macrophage-like cell death than WT OMVs. This ΔtrxA OMV-mediated cell death was abrogated when cells were incubated with protease-K-treated OMVs suggesting OMV proteins were responsible for cytotoxicity. We therefore compared WT and mutant OMV proteins using proteomic analysis. We observed that up-regulated and unique ΔtrxA OMV proteins consisted of many membrane bound proteins involved in small molecule transport as well as proteolytic activity. Bacterial OmpA, metalloprotease, and fimbrial protein have been shown to enhance mammalian cell apoptosis through various mechanisms. Differential packaging of these proteins in ΔtrxA OMVs may contribute to the increased cytotoxicity observed in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Acinetobacter
  • bacteria
  • cytotoxicity
  • outer membrane vesicle
  • proteomic
  • thioredoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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