Cellular microbiology. 2020-01-01; 22.1: e13115.

NAD hydrolysis by the tuberculosis necrotizing toxin induces lethal oxidative stress in macrophages

Pajuelo D, Gonzalez-Juarbe N, Niederweis M

PMID: 31509891


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) kills infected macrophages through necroptosis, a programmed cell death that enhances mycobacterial replication and dissemination. The tuberculosis necrotizing toxin (TNT) is the major cytotoxicity factor of Mtb in macrophages and induces necroptosis by NAD hydrolysis. Here, we show that the catalytic activity of TNT triggers the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in Mtb-infected macrophages causing cell death and promoting mycobacterial replication. TNT induces ROS formation both by activating necroptosis and by a necroptosis-independent mechanism. Most of the detected ROS originate in mitochondria as a consequence of opening the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. However, a significant part of ROS is produced by mechanisms independent of TNT and necroptosis. Expressing only the tnt gene in Jurkat T-cells also induces lethal ROS formation indicating that these molecular mechanisms are not restricted to macrophages. Both the antioxidant N-acetyl-cysteine and replenishment of NAD by providing nicotinamide reduce ROS levels in Mtb-infected macrophages, protect them from cell death, and restrict mycobacterial replication. Our results indicate that a host-directed therapy combining replenishment of NAD with inhibition of necroptosis and/or antioxidants might improve the health status of TB patients and augment antibacterial TB chemotherapy.