PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Leishmania-induced IRAK-1 inactivation is mediated by SHP-1 interacting with an evolutionarily conserved KTIM motif.

PMID 19104650


Parasites of the Leishmania genus can rapidly alter several macrophage (MØ) signalling pathways in order to tame down the innate immune response and inflammation, therefore favouring their survival and propagation within their mammalian host. Having recently reported that Leishmania and bacterial LPS generate a significantly stronger inflammatory response in animals and phagocytes functionally deficient for the Src homology 2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase (SHP-1), we hypothesized that Leishmania could exploit SHP-1 to inactivate key kinases involved in Toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling and innate immunity such as IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1). Here we show that upon infection, SHP-1 rapidly binds to IRAK-1, completely inactivating its intrinsic kinase activity and any further LPS-mediated activation as well as MØ functions. We also demonstrate that the SHP-1/IRAK-1 interaction occurs via an evolutionarily conserved ITIM-like motif found in the kinase domain of IRAK-1, which we named KTIM (Kinase Tyrosyl-based Inhibitory Motif). This regulatory motif appeared in early vertebrates and is not found in any other IRAK family member. Our study additionally reveals that several other kinases (e.g. Erk1/2, IKKalpha/beta) involved in downstream TLR signalling also bear KTIMs in their kinase domains and interact with SHP-1. We thus provide the first demonstration that a pathogen can exploit a host protein tyrosine phosphatase, namely SHP-1, to directly inactivate IRAK-1 through a generally conserved KTIM motif.