Human Antimicrobial RNases Inhibit Intracellular Bacterial Growth and Induce Autophagy in Mycobacteria-lnfected Macrophages

Lu Lu, Javier Arranz-Trullén, Guillem Prats-Ejarque, David Pulido, Sanjib Bhakta, Ester Boix

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Copyright © 2019 Lu, Arranz-Trullén, Prats-Ejarque, Pulido, Bhakta and Boix. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. The development of novel treatment against tuberculosis is a priority global health challenge. Antimicrobial proteins and peptides offer a multifaceted mechanism suitable to fight bacterial resistance. Within the RNaseA superfamily there is a group of highly cationic proteins secreted by innate immune cells with anti-infective and immune-regulatory properties. In this work, we have tested the human canonical members of the RNase family using a spot-culture growth inhibition assay based mycobacteria-infected macrophage model for evaluating their anti-tubercular properties. Out of the seven tested recombinant human RNases, we have identified two members, RNase3 and RNase6, which were highly effective against Mycobacterium aurum extra- and intracellularly and induced an autophagy process. We observed the proteins internalization within macrophages and their capacity to eradicate the intracellular mycobacterial infection at a low micro-molar range. Contribution of the enzymatic activity was discarded by site-directed mutagenesis at the RNase catalytic site. The protein induction of autophagy was analyzed by RT-qPCR, western blot, immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy. Specific blockage of auto-phagosome formation and maturation reduced the protein's ability to eradicate the infection. In addition, we found that the M. aurum infection of human THP1 macrophages modulates the expression of endogenous RNase3 and RNase6, suggesting a function in vivo. Overall, our data anticipate a biological role for human antimicrobial RNases in host response to mycobacterial infections and set the basis for the design of novel anti-tubercular drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1500
Pages (from-to)1500
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberJUL
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019


  • 3/ECP
  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Autophagy
  • Macrophage
  • Ribonucleases
  • Tuberculosis
  • antimicrobial peptides
  • autophagy
  • macrophage
  • ribonucleases
  • tuberculosis


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