Direct cell-to-cell spreading of Listeria monocytogenes requires the bacteria to induce actin-based finger-like membrane protrusions in donor host cells that are endocytosed through caveolin-rich membrane invaginations by adjacent receiving cells. An actin shell surrounds these endocytic sites; however, its structure, composition, and functional significance remain elusive. Here, we show that the formin mDia1, but surprisingly not the Arp2/3 complex, is enriched at the membrane invaginations generated by L. monocytogenes during HeLa and Jeg-3 cell infections. Electron microscopy reveals a band of linear actin filaments that run along the longitudinal axis of the invagination membrane. Mechanistically, mDia1 expression is vital for the assembly of this F-actin shell. mDia1 is also required for the recruitment of Filamin A, a caveola-associated F-actin cross-linking protein, and caveolin-1 to the invaginations. Importantly, mixed-cell infection assays show that optimal caveolin-based L. monocytogenes cell-to-cell spreading correlates with the formation of the linear actin filament-containing shell by mDia1.
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