Revisiting ehrlichia ruminantium replication cycle using proteomics: The host and the bacterium perspectives

Isabel Marcelino, Philippe Holzmuller, Ana Coelho, Gabriel Mazzucchelli, Bernard Fernandez, Nathalie Vachiéry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Rickettsiales Ehrlichia ruminantium, the causal agent of the fatal tick-borne disease Heartwater, induces severe damage to the vascular endothelium in ruminants. Nevertheless, E. ruminantium-induced pathobiology remains largely unknown. Our work paves the way for understanding this phenomenon by using quantitative proteomic analyses (2D-DIGE-MS/MS, 1DE-nanoLC-MS/MS and biotin-nanoUPLC-MS/MS) of host bovine aorta endothelial cells (BAE) during the in vitro bacterium intracellular replication cycle. We detect 265 bacterial proteins (including virulence factors), at all time-points of the E. ruminantium replication cycle, highlighting a dynamic bacterium–host interaction. We show that E. ruminantium infection modulates the expression of 433 host proteins: 98 being over-expressed, 161 under-expressed, 140 detected only in infected BAE cells and 34 exclusively detected in non-infected cells. Cystoscape integrated data analysis shows that these proteins lead to major changes in host cell immune responses, host cell metabolism and vesicle trafficking, with a clear involvement of inflammation-related proteins in this process. Our findings led to the first model of E. ruminantium infection in host cells in vitro, and we highlight potential biomarkers of E. ruminantium infection in endothelial cells (such as ROCK1, TMEM16K, Albumin and PTPN1), which may be important to further combat Heartwater, namely by developing non-antibiotic-based strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1144
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Bacterial life cycle
  • Differential protein expression
  • Ehrlichia ruminantium
  • Endothelial cells
  • Host response
  • Immunomodulation
  • Infection biomarkers
  • Virulence factors


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