CNF1-like deamidase domains: Common Lego bricks among cancer-promoting immunomodulatory bacterial virulence factors

Mengfei Ho, Amel Mettouchi, Brenda A. Wilson, Emmanuel Lemichez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alterations of the cellular proteome over time due to spontaneous or toxin-mediated enzymatic deamidation of glutamine (Gln) and asparagine (Asn) residues contribute to bacterial infection and might represent a source of aging-related diseases. Here, we put into perspective what is known about the mode of action of the CNF1 toxin from pathogenic Escherichia coli, a paradigm of bacterial deamidases that activate Rho GTPases, to illustrate the importance of determining whether exposure to these factors are risk factors in the etiology age-related diseases, such as cancer. In particular, through in silico analysis of the distribution of the CNF1-like deamidase active site Gly-Cys-(Xaa)n-His sequence motif in bacterial genomes, we unveil the wide distribution of the super-family of CNF-like toxins and CNF-like deamidase domains among members of the Enterobacteriacae and in association with a large variety of toxin delivery systems. We extent our discussion with recent findings concerning cellular systems that control activated Rac1 GTPase stability and provide protection against cancer. These findings point to the urgency for developing holistic approaches toward personalized medicine that include monitoring for asymptomatic carriage of pathogenic toxin-producing bacteria and that ultimately might lead to improved public health and increased lifespans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfty045
JournalPathogens and Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Cancer
  • Deamidation
  • Dermonecrotic
  • Glutamine
  • Gut microbiota
  • Toxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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