Staphylococcus aureus is a common human pathogen highly evolved as both a component of the commensal flora and as a major cause of invasive infection. Severe respiratory infection due to staphylococci has been increasing due to the prevalence of more virulent USA300 CA-MRSA strains in the general population. The ability of S. aureus to adapt to the milieu of the respiratory tract has facilitated its emergence as a respiratory pathogen. Its metabolic versatility, the ability to scavenge iron, coordinate gene expression, and the horizontal acquisition of useful genetic elements have all contributed to its success as a component of the respiratory flora, in hospitalized patients, as a complication of influenza and in normal hosts. The expression of surface adhesins facilitates its persistence in the airways. In addition, the highly sophisticated interactions of the multiple S. aureus virulence factors, particularly the α-hemolysin and protein A, with diverse immune effectors in the lung such as ADAM10, TNFR1, EGFR, immunoglobulin, and complement all contribute to the pathogenesis of staphylococcal pneumonia.
Airway; Lung; Epithelial; Staphylococcus aureus; Virulence; Signaling
Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) functions as a channel that regulates the transport of ions and the movement of water across the epithelial barrier. Mutations in CFTR, which form the basis for the clinical manifestations of cystic fibrosis, affect the epithelial innate immune function in the lung, resulting in exaggerated and ineffective airway inflammation that fails to eradicate pulmonary pathogens. Compounding the effects of excessive neutrophil recruitment, the mutant CFTR channel does not transport antioxidants to counteract neutrophil-associated oxidative stress. Whereas mutant CFTR expression in leukocytes outside of the lung does not markedly impair their function, the expected regulation of inflammation in the airways is clearly deficient in cystic fibrosis. The resulting bacterial infections, which are caused by organisms that have substantial genetic and metabolic flexibility, can resist multiple classes of antibiotics and evade phagocytic clearance. The development of animal models that approximate the human pulmonary phenotypes—airway inflammation and spontaneous infection—may provide the much-needed tools to establish how CFTR regulates mucosal immunity and to test directly the effect of pharmacologic potentiation and correction of mutant CFTR function on bacterial clearance.
Staphylococcus aureus contains an autoinducing quorum-sensing system encoded within the agr operon that coordinates expression of virulence genes required for invasive infection. Allelic variation within agr has generated four agr specific groups, agr I–IV, each of which secretes a distinct autoinducing peptide pheromone (AIP1-4) that drives agr signaling. Because agr signaling mediates a phenotypic change in this pathogen from an adherent colonizing phenotype to one associated with considerable tissue injury and invasiveness, we postulated that a significant contribution to host defense against tissue damaging and invasive infections could be provided by innate immune mechanisms that antagonize agr signaling. We determined whether two host defense factors that inhibit AIP1-induced agrI signaling, Nox2 and apolipoprotein B (apoB), also contribute to innate control of AIP3-induced agrIII signaling. We hypothesized that apoB and Nox2 would function differently against AIP3, which differs from AIP1 in amino acid sequence and length. Here we show that unlike AIP1, AIP3 is resistant to direct oxidant inactivation by Nox2 characteristic ROS. Rather, the contribution of Nox2 to defense against agrIII signaling is through oxidation of LDL. ApoB in the context of oxLDL, and not LDL, provides optimal host defense against S. aureus agrIII infection by binding the secreted signaling peptide, AIP3, and preventing expression of the agr-driven virulence factors which mediate invasive infection. ApoB within the context of oxLDL also binds AIP 1-4 and oxLDL antagonizes agr signaling by all four agr alleles. Our results suggest that Nox2-mediated oxidation of LDL facilitates a conformational change in apoB to one sufficient for binding and sequestration of all four AIPs, demonstrating the interdependence of apoB and Nox2 in host defense against agr signaling. These data reveal a novel role for oxLDL in host defense against S. aureus quorum-sensing signaling.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of humans but can also cause severe, invasive infection. S. aureus uses a secreted peptide-based communication system, agr, to induce production of virulence factors needed for invasive infection. Allelic variation has generated four agr types, agr I–IV, and each secretes a distinct autoinducing peptide (AIP1-4) that differs in amino acid sequence and length. Understanding host factors that prevent signaling by each of the four agr specific groups (agrI–IV) could provide opportunities for prevention of infection or therapeutic intervention. We previously demonstrated that apolipoprotein B (apoB), the major structural protein of very low and low density lipoproteins (VLDL, LDL), binds to the secreted agrI peptide, AIP1, and prevents agr signaling. In addition, the NADPH oxidase Nox2 produces reactive oxygen species which directly modify and inactive AIP1. Here we examined the role of apoB and Nox2 in defense against agrIII-signaling. We found that apoB in oxidized LDL, but not in native LDL, mediated optimal binding of AIP3. Also, unlike AIP1, Nox2 did not directly inactivate AIP3. Rather Nox2 contributed to defense against agrIII-signaling by oxidizing LDL. Furthermore, we found that oxLDL bound all four AIPs and antagonized agr signaling by each agr allele in vitro. These results expand our understanding of host defense against S. aureus agr signaling.
The clinical manifestations of infection in cystic fibrosis (CF) are restricted to the lung, and involve a limited number of pathogens, suggesting a specific defect in mucosal immunity. We postulated that cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CTFR) mutations could affect the activation of type I interferon signaling in airway epithelial cells, which function in immune surveillance and initiate the recruitment and activation of immune cells. In response to infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ifnb was induced more than 100-fold in the murine lung, and the phosphorylation of STAT1 was similarly induced by the expected TLR4/TRIF/MD2/TBK1 cascade. The stimulation by P. aeruginosa of CF (IB3) cells and control (C-38) human cell lines similarly resulted in the induction of IFN-β, but to a significantly lower extent in CF airway cells. The potential consequences of diminished type I IFN signaling were demonstrated in a murine model of P. aeruginosa pneumonia, pretreatment with polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid significantly enhanced bacterial clearance and correlated with increased numbers of mature CD11c+/CD86+ dendritic cells (DCs) in the lung. Using culture supernatants from CF or control cell lines stimulated with P. aeruginosa, we similarly demonstrated the diminished activation of human monocyte–derived DCs by incubation with CF compared with normal epithelial cell culture supernatants, which was dependent on IFN-β. These observations suggest that dysfunction of the CFTR in airway epithelial cells may contribute to impaired immune surveillance in the CF airway and resultant colonization by P. aeruginosa.
Type I interferon; cystic fibrosis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; TLR4
The human innate immune response to pathogens is complex, and it has been difficult to establish the contribution of epithelial signaling in the prevention of upper respiratory tract infection. The prevalence of chronic sinusitis in the absence of systemic immune defects indicates that there may be local defects in innate immunity associated with such mucosal infections. In this issue of the JCI, Cohen and colleagues investigate the role of the bitter taste receptors in airway epithelial cells, and find that these are critical to sensing the presence of invading pathogens.
The airway epithelium possesses many mechanisms to prevent bacterial infection. Not only does it provide a physical barrier but it also acts as an extension of the immune system through the expression of innate immune receptors and corresponding effectors. One outcome of innate signaling by the epithelium is the production of type I interferons (IFN) , which have traditionally been associated with activation via viral and intracellular organisms. We discuss how three extracellular bacterial pathogens of the airway activate this intracellular signaling cascade through both surface components as well as via secretion systems and the differing effects of type I IFN signaling on host defense of the respiratory tract.
The airway epithelium represents the first point of contact for inhaled foreign organisms. The protective arsenal of the airway epithelium is provided in the form of physical barriers and a vast array of receptors and antimicrobial compounds that constitute the innate immune system. Many of the known innate immune receptors, including the Toll-like receptors and nucleotide oligomerization domain–like receptors, are expressed by the airway epithelium, which leads to the production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines that affect microorganisms directly and recruit immune cells, such as neutrophils and T cells, to the site of infection. The airway epithelium also produces a number of resident antimicrobial proteins, such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, and mucins, as well as a swathe of cationic proteins. Dysregulation of the airway epithelial innate immune system is associated with a number of medical conditions that can result in compromised immunity and chronic inflammation of the lung. This review focuses on the innate immune capabilities of the airway epithelium and its role in protecting the lung from infection as well as the outcomes when its function is compromised.
innate immunity; respiratory; airway; signaling
Staphylococcus aureus causes especially severe pulmonary infection, associated with high morbidity and mortality. In addition to the effects of specific virulence factors, it appears that the intensity of the host proinflammatory response, particularly in the initial stages of infection, contributes substantially to pulmonary damage. We tested the hypothesis that the CD11c+ leukocytes are important in the host response to pulmonary infection with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) USA300. Clodronate-induced depletion of the alveolar macrophage population resulted in increased numbers of dendritic cells (DCs) and CD4+ cells in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and was associated with significantly increased mortality by 18 h following S. aureus inoculation but had no effect on bacterial load or polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) numbers in the lung. These clodronate-treated mice also had increased expression of interleukin-17A/F (IL-17A/F) and CXCL10 but not of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Depletion of the dendritic cell population in mice expressing a CD11c-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) transgene was associated with an increased bacterial load in the lung but not increased mortality. Both DCs and airway epithelial cells produced CXCL9, -10, and -11 in response to S. aureus. Pretreatment of mice with an anti-CXCR3 antibody prior to inoculation with MRSA substantially reduced CD4+ cells and decreased pulmonary inflammation at 18 h postinfection compared to pretreatment with an IgG control. The results of these experiments suggest that CD11c+ cells, the induction of CXCR3 ligand expression, and subsequent CD4+ cell recruitment have an important role in the pathogenesis of severe MRSA pulmonary infection.
The mucosal epithelium is the initial target for respiratory pathogens of all types. While type I interferon (IFN) signaling is traditionally associated with antiviral immunity, we demonstrate that the extracellular bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae activates the type I IFN cascade in airway epithelial and dendritic cells. This response is dependent upon the pore-forming toxin pneumolysin. Pneumococcal DNA activates IFN-β expression through a DAI/STING/TBK1/IRF3 cascade. Tlr4−/−, Myd88−/−, Trif−/−, and Nod2−/− mutant mice had no impairment of type I IFN signaling. Induction of type I IFN signaling contributes to the eradication of pneumococcal carriage, as IFN-α/β receptor null mice had significantly increased nasal colonization with S. pneumoniae compared with that of wild-type mice. These studies suggest that the type I IFN cascade is a central component of the mucosal response to airway bacterial pathogens and is responsive to bacterial pathogen-associated molecular patterns that are capable of accessing intracellular receptors.
The bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia, leading to upwards of one million deaths a year worldwide and significant economic burden. Although it is known that antibody is critical for efficient phagocytosis, it is not known how this pathogen is sensed by the mucosal epithelium. We demonstrate that this extracellular pathogen activates mucosal signaling typically activated by viral pathogens via the pneumolysin pore to activate intracellular receptors and the type I interferon (IFN) cascade. Mice lacking the receptor to type I IFNs have a reduced ability to clear S. pneumoniae, suggesting that the type I IFN cascade is central to the mucosal clearance of this important pathogen.
Streptococcus pneumoniae remains a major cause of bacteremia, pneumonia, and otitis media despite vaccines and effective antibiotics. The neuraminidase of S. pneumoniae, which catalyzes the release of terminal sialic acid residues from glycoconjugates, is involved in host colonization in animal models of infection and may provide a novel target for preventing pneumococcal infection. We demonstrate that the S. pneumoniae neuraminidase (NanA) cleaves sialic acid and show that it is involved in biofilm formation, suggesting an additional role in pathogenesis, and that it shares this property with the neuraminidase of Pseudomonas aeruginosa even though we show that the two enzymes are phylogenetically divergent. Using an in vitro model of biofilm formation incorporating human airway epithelial cells, we demonstrate that small-molecule inhibitors of NanA block biofilm formation and may provide a novel target for preventative therapy. This work highlights the role played by the neuraminidase in pathogenesis and represents an important step in drug development for prevention of colonization of the respiratory tract by this important pathogen.
Recruitment of PMNs into the lungs in response to inhaled pathogens is initiated by epithelial signaling, the activation of toll-like receptors (TLR) and IL-8 production. As PMNs must be mobilized through epithelial junctions to reach the site of infection, we postulated that TLR signaling includes a mechanism to modulate the epithelial barrier to accommodate PMN migration. We demonstrate that Ca2+ fluxes generated by TLR2 signals activate calpains which cleave the transmembrane proteins occludin and E-cadherin. Calpain inhibitors decrease PMN transmigration in response to TLR2 agonists both in vitro and in a mouse model of P. aeruginosa infection. TLR2 signaling in the airway not only induces chemokine expression, but also initiates cleavage of junctional proteins to accommodate transmigration of recruited PMNs.
The innate immune response to inhaled bacteria, such as the opportunist Pseudomonas aeruginosa, is initiated by TLR2 displayed on the apical surface of airway epithelial cells. Activation of TLR2 is accompanied by an immediate Ca2+ flux that is both necessary and sufficient to stimulate NF-κB and MAPK proinflammatory signaling to recruit and activate polymorphonuclear leukocytes in the airway. In human airway cells gap junction channels were found to provide a regulated conduit for the movement of Ca2+ from cell to cell. In response to TLR2 stimulation, by either lipid agonists or P. aeruginosa, gap junctions functioned to transiently amplify proinflammatory signaling by communicating Ca2+ fluxes from stimulated to adjacent, non-stimulated cells thus increasing epithelial CXCL8 production. P. aeruginosa stimulation also induced tyrosine phosphorylation of Connexin 43 and association with c-Src, events linked to the closure of these channels. By 4 hours post bacterial stimulation, gap junction communication was decreased indicating an autoregulatory control of the connexins. Thus, gap junction channels comprised of Connexin 43 and other connexins in airway cells provide a mechanism to coordinate and regulate the epithelial immune response even in the absence of signals from the immune system.
Inflammation; lung; mucosa
The activation of type I IFN signaling is a major component of host defense against viral infection, but it is not typically associated with immune responses to extracellular bacterial pathogens. Using mouse and human airway epithelial cells, we have demonstrated that Staphylococcus aureus activates type I IFN signaling, which contributes to its virulence as a respiratory pathogen. This response was dependent on the expression of protein A and, more specifically, the Xr domain, a short sequence–repeat region encoded by DNA that consists of repeated 24-bp sequences that are the basis of an internationally used epidemiological typing scheme. Protein A was endocytosed by airway epithelial cells and subsequently induced IFN-β expression, JAK-STAT signaling, and IL-6 production. Mice lacking IFN-α/β receptor 1 (IFNAR-deficient mice), which are incapable of responding to type I IFNs, were substantially protected against lethal S. aureus pneumonia compared with wild-type control mice. The profound immunological consequences of IFN-β signaling, particularly in the lung, may help to explain the conservation of multiple copies of the Xr domain of protein A in S. aureus strains and the importance of protein A as a virulence factor in the pathogenesis of staphylococcal pneumonia.
The type III secreted toxins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa are important virulence factors associated with clinically important infection. However, their effects on bacterial invasion across mucosal surfaces have not been well characterized. One of the most commonly expressed toxins, ExoS, has two domains that are predicted to affect cytoskeletal integrity, including a GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain, which targets Rho, a major regulator of actin polymerization; and an ADP-ribosylating domain that affects the ERM proteins, which link the plasma membrane to the actin cytoskeleton. The activities of these toxins, and ExoS specifically, on the permeability properties of polarized airway epithelial cells with intact tight junctions were examined. Strains expressing type III toxins altered the distribution of the tight junction proteins ZO-1 and occludin and were able to transmigrate across polarized airway epithelial monolayers, in contrast to ΔSTY mutants. These effects on epithelial permeability were associated with the ADP-ribosylating domain of ExoS, as bacteria expressing plasmids lacking expression of the ExoS GAP activity nonetheless increased the permeation of fluorescent dextrans, as well as bacteria, across polarized airway epithelial cells. Treatment of epithelial cells with cytochalasin D depolymerized actin filaments and increased permeation across the monolayers but did not eliminate the differential effects of wild-type and toxin-negative mutants on the epithelial cells, suggesting that additional epithelial targets are involved. Confocal imaging studies demonstrated that ZO-1, occludin, and ezrin undergo substantial redistribution in human airway cells intoxicated by ExoS, -T, and -Y. These studies support the hypothesis that type III toxins enhance P. aeruginosa's invasive capabilities by interacting with multiple eukaryotic cytoskeletal components.
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a multiple-antibiotic-resistant opportunistic pathogen that is being isolated with increasing frequency from patients with health-care-associated infections and especially from patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). While clinicians feel compelled to treat infections involving this organism, its potential for virulence is not well established. We evaluated the immunostimulatory properties and overall virulence of clinical isolates of S. maltophilia using the well-characterized opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 as a control. The properties of CF isolates were examined specifically to see if they have a common phenotype. The immunostimulatory properties of S. maltophilia were studied in vitro by stimulating airway epithelial and macrophage cell lines. A neonatal mouse model of pneumonia was used to determine the rates of pneumonia, bacteremia, and mortality, as well as the inflammatory response elicited by S. maltophilia infection. Respiratory and nonrespiratory S. maltophilia isolates were highly immunostimulatory and elicited significant interleukin-8 expression by airway epithelial cells, as well as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) expression by macrophages. TNF-α signaling appears to be important in the pathogenesis of S. maltophilia infection as less than 20% of TNFR1 null mice (compared with 100% of wild-type mice) developed pneumonia and bacteremia following intranasal inoculation. The S. maltophilia isolates were weakly invasive, and low-level bacteremia with no mortality was observed. Despite the lack of invasiveness of S. maltophilia, the immunostimulatory properties of this organism and its induction of TNF-α expression specifically indicate that it is likely to contribute significantly to airway inflammation.
Many respiratory pathogens, including Hemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, express neuraminidases that can cleave α2,3-linked sialic acids from glycoconjugates. As mucosal surfaces are heavily sialylated, neuraminidases have been thought to modify epithelial cells by exposing potential bacterial receptors. However, in contrast to neuraminidase produced by the influenza virus, a role for bacterial neuraminidase in pathogenesis has not yet been clearly established. We constructed a mutant of P. aeruginosa PAO1 by deleting the PA2794 neuraminidase locus (Δ2794) and tested its virulence and immunostimulatory capabilities in a mouse model of infection. Although fully virulent when introduced i.p., the Δ2794 mutant was unable to establish respiratory infection by i.n. inoculation. The inability to colonize the respiratory tract correlated with diminished production of biofilm, as assessed by scanning electron microscopy and in vitro assays. The importance of neuraminidase in biofilm production was further demonstrated by showing that viral neuraminidase inhibitors in clinical use blocked P. aeruginosa biofilm production in vitro as well. The P. aeruginosa neuraminidase has a key role in the initial stages of pulmonary infection by targeting bacterial glycoconjugates and contributing to the formation of biofilm. Inhibiting bacterial neuraminidases could provide a novel mechanism to prevent bacterial pneumonia.
Cyclosporin A (CsA) blocks T cell activation by interfering with the Ca2+-dependent phosphatase, calcineurin. Proinflammatory responses to bacteria that are activated by Ca2+-fluxes in airway cells are a potential target for CsA. Although local immunosuppression may be advantageous to control airway inflammation, it could also increase susceptibility to bacterial pneumonia and invasive infection. As aerosolized CsA is currently under study in lung transplantation, we examined its direct effects on airway cells as well as in a murine model of pneumonia. Epithelial interleukin-6 production was very effectively inhibited by CsA, whereas CXCL8 production, the major PMN chemokine, was only modestly diminished. Responses to a TLR2 agonist Pam3Cys were more sensitive to CsA inhibition than those activated by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. CsA substantially blocked activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells and cAMP-responsive element–binding protein (P < 0.001), inhibited CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein by 50% (P < 0.05), and minimally blocked activator protein-1 and nuclear factor-κB responses to bacteria in epithelial cells. The in vitro effects were confirmed in a mouse model of P. aeruginosa infection with similar rates of PMN recruitment, pneumonia and mortality in CsA treated and control mice. These studies indicate that airway epithelial signaling is a potential target for CsA, and such local immunosuppression may not increase susceptibility to invasive infection.
cyclosporin A; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; airway cells; pneumonia; aerosol
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an important pathogen causing a wide range of acute and chronic infections. P. aeruginosa rarely causes infection in the normal host, but is an efficient opportunistic pathogen causing serious infections in patients who are mechanically ventilated, individuals who are immunocompromised, and patients with malignancies or HIV infection. Among these risk groups, the most vulnerable hosts are neutropenic and patients who are mechanically ventilated. In addition, P. aeruginosa is the most prevalent chronic infection contributing to the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis. Because of the ubiquitous nature of P. aeruginosa and its ability to develop resistance to antibiotics, it continues to be problematic from a treatment perspective. The pathogenicity of P. aeruginosa is largely caused by multiple bacterial virulence factors and genetic flexibility enabling it to survive in varied environments. Lung injury associated with P. aeruginosa infection results from both the direct destructive effects of the organism on the lung parenchyma and exuberant host immune responses. This article focuses on the major bacterial virulence factors and important aspects of the host immunity that are involved in the pathogenesis of serious P. aeruginosa infection. In addition to antibiotic therapy, strategies directed toward enhancing host defense and/or limiting excessive inflammation could be important to improve outcome in P. aeruginosa lung infections.
cystic fibrosis; cytokines; epithelium; host defense; nosocomial
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) mediate host responses to bacterial gene products. As the airway epithelium is potentially exposed to many diverse inhaled bacteria, TLRs involved in defense of the airways must be broadly responsive, available at the exposed apical surface of the cells, and highly regulated to prevent activation following trivial encounters with bacteria. We demonstrate that TLR2 is enriched in caveolin-1–associated lipid raft microdomains presented on the apical surface of airway epithelial cells after bacterial infection. These receptor complexes include myeloid differentiation protein (MyD88), interleukin-1 receptor–activated kinase-1, and TNF receptor–associated factor 6. The signaling capabilities of TLR2 are amplified through its association with the asialoganglioside gangliotetraosylceramide (Galβ1,2GalNAcβ1,4Galβ1,4Glcβ1,1Cer), which has receptor function itself for many pulmonary pathogens. Ligation of either TLR2 or asialoGM1 by ligands with specificity for either receptor, by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, or by Staphylococcus aureus stimulates IL-8 production through activation of NF-κB, as mediated by TLR2 and MyD88. Thus, TLR2 in association with asialo-glycolipids presented within the context of lipid rafts provides a broadly responsive signaling complex at the apical surfaces of airway cells to initiate the host response to potential bacterial infection.
Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is believed to induce disease and death in humans in an endotoxic shock–like manner. A comprehensive study of the effects of anthrax toxin in mice demonstrates that toxin-induced death is mediated not by cytokine release, as previously thought, but by hypoxia-induced liver failure. The study strongly suggests that the therapies developed for treatment of cytokine-mediated septic shock will not be appropriate for the treatment of anthrax.
Staphylococcus aureus strains lacking agr- and sarA-dependent gene products or specific MSCRAMM (microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules) adhesins were compared for the ability to activate inflammatory responses in the lung. The mutants were evaluated for virulence in a mouse model of pneumonia and by quantifying their ability to stimulate interleukin-8 (IL-8) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) expression in respiratory epithelial cells. In a neonatal mouse, only strains with intact agr and sarA loci were consistently associated with invasive, fatal pulmonary infection (P < 0.001) and sarA was specifically required to cause bacteremia (P < 0.001). The agr and/or sarA mutants were, nonetheless, fully capable of producing pneumonia and were as proficient as the wild-type strain in stimulating epithelial IL-8 expression, a polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemokine, in airway cells. In contrast, agr and especially sarA mutants induced less epithelial GM-CSF expression, and MSCRAMM mutants lacking fibronectin binding proteins or clumping factor A, a ligand for fibrinogen, were unable to stimulate epithelial GM-CSF production. The ability to induce IL-8 expression was independent of the adherence properties of intact bacteria, indicating that shed and/or secreted bacterial components activate epithelial responses. While conserved staphylococcal components such as peptidoglycan are sufficient to evoke inflammation and cause pneumonia, the agr and sarA loci of S. aureus are critical for the coordination of invasive infection of the lungs.
Cell-to-cell signaling controls many virulence genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We tested the virulence of las and rhl quorum-sensing mutants in neonatal mice. A lasI rhlI double mutant was nearly avirulent, and the respective single mutant strains were reduced in virulence compared with the wild-type strain. Quorum sensing plays a role in P. aeruginosa pneumonia in neonatal mice.
Fcγ receptors on the surface of phagocytic cells bind the Fc region of IgG and mediate binding, phagocytosis, and destruction of particulate antigens opsonized by the antigen-specific IgG molecule. The present study evaluates the feasibility of converting lung epithelial cells into phagocytic cells using adenovirus (Ad) vector–mediated gene transfer of FcγRIIA cDNA to induce expression of the human FcγRIIA receptor. Binding and phagocytosis of opsonized sheep red blood cells (SRBCs) by the A549 human lung epithelial cell line after Ad-mediated FcγRIIA gene transfer was demonstrated using light and fluorescence microscopy and phagocytic assays with 51Cr-labeled SRBCs. When A549 cells were infected with an Ad vector expressing a FcγRIIA mutant in which 2 of 3 cytoplasmic tyrosines have been replaced with phenylalanine, only binding, but not phagocytosis, of opsonized SRBCs was observed. In vivo expression of FcγRIIA in the lung after intratracheal administration of the AdFcγRIIA enhanced clearance of opsonized Pseudomonas aeruginosa from the lung in normal rats and in mice deficient in Fcγ receptor expression. Similar results were observed with a chimeric FcγRIIA construct containing the extracellular domain of FcγRIIIA. Together, these data demonstrate that Ad-mediated FcγRIIA receptor cDNA expression can mediate the binding and phagocytosis of opsonized particulate antigens by normally nonphagocytic cells, suggesting that gene-transfer strategies might be used to utilize nonphagocytic cells to clear bacteria or other opsonized particulate antigens from the respiratory tract.
J. Clin. Invest. 104:409-418 (1999).
Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains are opportunistic pathogens associated with infections in immunocompromised hosts and patients with cystic fibrosis. Like many other mucosal pathogens, P. aeruginosa cells express flagella which provide motility and chemotaxis toward preferred substrates but also provide a ligand for clearance by phagocytic cells. We tested the role of flagella in the initial stages of respiratory tract infection by comparing the virulence of fliC mutants in a neonatal mouse model of pneumonia. In the absence of fliC, there was no mortality, compared with 30% mortality attributed to the parental strain PAK or 15% mortality associated with infection due to a pilA mutant PAK/NP (P < 0.0001). The fliC mutants caused pneumonia in only 25% of the mice inoculated, regardless of whether there was expression of the pilus, whereas the parental strain was associated with an 80% rate of pneumonia. Histopathological studies demonstrated that the fliC mutants caused very focal inflammation and that the organisms did not spread through the lungs as seen in infection due to either PAK or PAK/NP. Purified flagellin elicited an intense inflammatory response in the mouse lung. 125I-labeled flagellin bound to the glycolipids GM1 and GD1a and to asialoGM1 in an in vitro binding assay. However, flagellin-mediated binding to epithelial gangliosides was a relatively unusual event, as quantified by binding assays of wild-type or fliC mutant organisms to CHO Lec-2 cells with membrane-incorporated GM1. Fla+ organisms but not fliC mutants were efficiently taken up by murine macrophages. P. aeruginosa flagella are important in the establishment of respiratory tract infection and may act as a tether in initial interactions with epithelial membranes. This function is offset by the contribution of flagella to host clearance mechanisms facilitating phagocytic clearance and the role of flagellar genes in mucin binding and clearance.