The lower urinary tract’s virtually inevitable exposure to external microbial pathogens warrants efficient tissue-specialized defenses to maintain sterility. The observation that the bladder can become chronically infected in combination with clinical observations that antibody responses following bladder infections are not detectable, suggest defects in the formation of adaptive immunity and immunological memory. We have identified a broadly immunosuppressive transcriptional program specific to the bladder, but not the kidney, during infection of the urinary tract that is dependent on tissue-resident mast cells (MCs). This involves localized production of interleukin-10 and results in suppressed humoral and cell mediated responses and bacterial persistence. Therefore, in addition to the previously described role of MCs orchestrating the early innate immunity during bladder infection, they subsequently play a tissue-specific immunosuppressive role. These findings may explain the prevalent recurrence of bladder infections and suggest the bladder as a site exhibiting an intrinsic degree of MC-maintained immune privilege.
The development and use of vaccines and their ability to prevent infection/disease is a shining example of the benefit of biomedical research. Modern vaccines often utilize subunit immunogens that exhibit minimal immunogenicity and require the use of adjuvants to maximize the induction of protective immune responses. We recently described a novel class of vaccine adjuvants, mast cell (MC) activators, that exhibit safe and effective vaccine adjuvant activity when administered by intranasal or intradermal routes. A compound library containing 580 functionalized benzopyrans, a structural motif found in a diverse array of natural and designed bioactive compounds, was screened using a MC degranulation assay to identify novel MC activating compounds for future evaluation as novel vaccine adjuvants. This approach identified 12 novel MC degranulating compounds. Therefore, MC degranulation can be used to reliably detect novel compounds for evaluation as adjuvants for use in mucosal vaccine strategies.
Caveolin-1, the hallmark protein of caveolae, is highly expressed within the lung in the epithelium, endothelium, and in immune cells. In addition to its classical roles in cholesterol metabolism and endocytosis, caveolin-1 has also been shown to be important in inflammatory signaling pathways. In particular, caveolin-1 is known to associate with the nitric oxide synthase enzymes, downregulating their activity. Endotoxins, which are are composed mainly of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are found ubiquitously in the environment and can lead to the development of airway inflammation and increased airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR).
We compared the acute responses of wild-type and caveolin-1 deficient mice after LPS aerosol, a well-accepted mode of endotoxin exposure, to investigate the role of caveolin-1 in the development of environmental lung injury.
Although the caveolin-1 deficient mice had greater lung inflammatory indices compared to wild-type mice, they exhibited reduced AHR following LPS exposure. The uncoupling of inflammation and AHR led us to investigate the role of caveolin-1 in the production of nitric oxide, which is known to act as a bronchodilator. The absence of caveolin-1 resulted in increased nitrite levels in the lavage fluid in both sham and LPS treated mice. Additionally, inducible nitric oxide synthase expression was increased in the lung tissue of caveolin-1 deficient mice following LPS exposure and administration of the potent and specific inhibitor 1400W increased AHR to levels comparable to wild-type mice.
We attribute the relative airway hyporesponsiveness in the caveolin-1 deficient mice after LPS exposure to the specific role of caveolin-1 in mediating nitric oxide production.
Caveolin-1; Lipopolysaccharide; Airway hyperresponsiveness; Nitric oxide; Lung injury; Cytokines
Granules of mast cells (MCs) enhance adaptive immunity when, on activation, they are released as stable particles. Here we show that submicrometre particles modelled after MC granules augment immunity when used as adjuvants in vaccines. The synthetic particles, which consist of a carbohydrate backbone with encapsulated inflammatory mediators such as tumour necrosis factor, replicate attributes of MCs in vivo including the targeting of draining lymph nodes and the timed release of the encapsulated mediators. When used as an adjuvant during vaccination of mice with haemagglutinin from the influenza virus, the particles enhanced adaptive immune responses and increased survival of mice on lethal challenge. Furthermore, differential loading of the particles with the cytokine IL-12 directed the character of the response towards Th1 lymphocytes. The synthetic MC adjuvants replicate and enhance the functions of MCs during vaccination, and can be extended to polarize the resulting immunity.
There is a current biodefense interest in protection against Anthrax. Here we developed a new generation of stable and effective anthrax vaccine. We studied the immune response elicited by rPA delivered intranasally with a novel mucosal adjuvant, a mast cell activator Compound 48/80. The vaccine formulation was prepared in a powder form by spray-freeze-drying (SFD) under optimized conditions to produce particles with a target size of D50=25μm, suitable for delivery to the rabbit nasal cavity. Physicochemical properties of the powder vaccines were characterized to assess their delivery and storage potential. Structural stability of rPA was confirmed by CD and ATR-FTIR, while functional stability of rPA and C48/80 was monitored by cell-based assays. Animal study was performed using a unitdose powder device for direct nasal application. Results showed that C48/80 provided effective mucosal adjuvant activity in rabbits. Freshly prepared SFD powder vaccine formulations or powders stored for over two years at room temperature elicited significantly elevated serum PA-specific and lethal toxin neutralization antibody titers that were comparable to that induced by IM immunization with rPA. Nasal delivery of this vaccine formulation may be a viable alternative to the currently licensed vaccine, or an attractive vaccine platform for other mucosally transmitted diseases.
Mycoplasma pneumoniae (Mp) frequently colonizes the airways of patients with chronic asthma and likely contributes to asthma exacerbations. We previously reported that mice lacking surfactant protein A (SP-A) have increased airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) during M pneumoniae infection versus wild-type mice mediated by TNF-α. Mast cells (MCs) have been implicated in AHR in asthma models and produce and respond to TNF-α.
Determine the contribution of MC/TNF interactions to AHR in airways lacking functional SP-A during Mp infection. Methods: Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was collected from healthy and asthmatic subjects to examine TNF-α levels and M pneumoniae positivity. To determine how SP-A interactions with MCs regulate airway homeostasis, we generated mice lacking both SP-A and MCs (SP-A−/−KitW-sh/W-sh) and infected them with M pneumoniae.
Our findings indicate that high TNF-α levels correlate with M pneumoniae positivity in human asthmatic patients and that human SP-A inhibits M pneumoniae–stimulated transcription and release of TNF-α by MCs, implicating a protective role for SP-A. MC numbers increase in M pneumoniae–infected lungs, and airway reactivity is dramatically attenuated when MCs are absent. Using SP-A−/−KitW-sh/W-sh mice engrafted with TNF-α−/− or TNF receptor (TNF-R)−/− MCs, we found that TNF-α activation of MCs through the TNF-R, but not MC-derived TNF-α, leads to augmented AHR during M pneumoniae infection when SP-A is absent. Additionally, M pneumoniae– infected SP-A−/−KitW-sh/W-sh mice engrafted with TNF-α−/− or TNF-R−/− MCs have decreased mucus production compared with that seen in mice engrafted with wild-type MCs, whereas burden was unaffected.
Our data highlight a previously unappreciated but vital role for MCs as secondary responders to TNF-α during the host response to pathogen infection.
Mast cells; TNF; Mycoplasma species; airway hyperres-ponsiveness; mucus
Vesicoureteric reflux (VUR) is a common congenital defect of the urinary tract that is usually discovered after a child develops a urinary tract infection. It is associated with reflux nephropathy, a renal lesion characterized by the presence of chronic tubulointersitial inflammation and fibrosis. Most patients are diagnosed with reflux nephropathy after one or more febrile urinary tract infections, suggesting a potential role for infection in its development. We have recently shown that the C3H mouse has a 100% incidence of VUR. Here, we evaluate the roles of VUR and uropathogenic Escherichia coli infection in the development of reflux nephropathy in the C3H mouse. We find that VUR in combination with sustained kidney infection is crucial to the development of reflux nephropathy, whereas sterile reflux alone fails to induce reflux nephropathy. A single bout of kidney infection without reflux fails to induce reflux nephropathy. The host immune response to infection was examined in two refluxing C3H substrains, HeN and HeJ. HeJ mice, which have a defect in innate immunity and bacterial clearance, demonstrate more significant renal inflammation and reflux nephropathy compared with HeN mice. These studies demonstrate the crucial synergy between VUR, sustained kidney infection and the host immune response in the development of reflux nephropathy in a mouse model of VUR.
We report that infection of draining lymph nodes (DLNs) by Salmonella typhimurium results in the specific downregulation of the homeostatic chemokines CCL21 and CXCL13, which are essential for normal DLN organization and function. Our data reveal that the mechanism of this suppression is dependent on S. typhimurium LPS (sLPS). The decrease in CCL21 expression involves interaction between sLPS and CCL21-producing cells within DLNs, triggering a distinct Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-mediated host signaling response. In this response, suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (Socs3) is upregulated, which negatively regulates mothers against decapentaplegic homolog-3 (Smad3)-initiated production of CCL21. Disruption of lymph node architecture and cellular trafficking enhances S. typhimurium virulence and could represent a mechanism of immune suppression used by pathogens that primarily target lymphoid tissue.
Rationale: Previously, we demonstrated a candidate region for susceptibility to airspace enlargement on mouse chromosome 5. However, the specific candidate genes within this region accounting for emphysema-like changes remain unrecognized. c-Kit is a receptor tyrosine kinase within this candidate gene region that has previously been recognized to contribute to the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells. Increases in the percentage of cells expressing c-Kit have previously been associated with protection against injury-induced emphysema.
Objectives: Determine whether genetic variants of c-Kit are associated with spontaneous airspace enlargement.
Methods: Perform single-nucleotide polymorphism association studies in the mouse strains at the extremes of airspace enlargement phenotype for variants in c-Kit tyrosine kinase. Characterize mice bearing functional variants of c-Kit compared with wild-type controls for the development of spontaneous airspace enlargement. Epithelial cell proliferation was measured in culture.
Measurements and Main Results: Upstream regulatory single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the divergent mouse strains were associated with the lung compliance difference observed between the extreme strains. c-Kit mutant mice (KitW-sh/W-sh), when compared with genetic controls, developed altered lung histology, increased total lung capacity, increased residual volume, and increased lung compliance that persist into adulthood. c-Kit inhibition with imatinib attenuated in vitro proliferation of cells expressing epithelial cell adhesion molecule.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that c-Kit sustains and/or maintains normal alveolar architecture in the lungs of mice. In vitro data suggest that c-Kit can regulate epithelial cell clonal expansion. The precise mechanisms that c-Kit contributes to the development of airspace enlargement and increased lung compliance remain unclear and warrants further investigation.
genetic; tyrosine kinase; SASH; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; aging
Candida glabrata is an emerging human fungal pathogen that is frequently drug tolerant, resulting in difficulties in treatment and a higher mortality in immunocompromised patients. The calcium-activated protein phosphatase calcineurin plays critical roles in controlling drug tolerance, hyphal growth, and virulence in diverse fungal pathogens via distinct mechanisms involving survival in serum or growth at host temperature (37° and higher). Here, we comprehensively studied the calcineurin signaling cascade in C. glabrata and found novel and uncharacterized functions of calcineurin and its downstream target Crz1 in governing thermotolerance, intracellular architecture, and pathogenesis in murine ocular, urinary tract, and systemic infections. This represents a second independent origin of a role for calcineurin in thermotolerant growth of a major human fungal pathogen, distinct from that which arose independently in Cryptococcus neoformans. Calcineurin also promotes survival of C. glabrata in serum via mechanisms distinct from C. albicans and thereby enables establishment of tissue colonization in a murine systemic infection model. To understand calcineurin signaling in detail, we performed global transcript profiling analysis and identified calcineurin- and Crz1-dependent genes in C. glabrata involved in cell wall biosynthesis, heat shock responses, and calcineurin function. Regulators of calcineurin (RCN) are a novel family of calcineurin modifiers, and two members of this family were identified in C. glabrata: Rcn1 and Rcn2. Our studies demonstrate that Rcn2 expression is controlled by calcineurin and Crz1 to function as a feedback inhibitor of calcineurin in a circuit required for calcium tolerance in C. glabrata. In contrast, the calcineurin regulator Rcn1 activates calcineurin signaling. Interestingly, neither Rcn1 nor Rcn2 is required for virulence in a murine systemic infection model. Taken together, our findings show that calcineurin signaling plays critical roles in thermotolerance and virulence, and that Rcn1 and Rcn2 have opposing functions in controlling calcineurin signaling in C. glabrata.
phosphatase; calcium; calmodulin; Crz1; Rcn1; Rcn2; thermotolerance; cell wall integrity; ER stress; drug tolerance; pH homeostasis; urinary tract infection; ocular infection; virulence
Allergic asthma is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness, inflammation, and a cellular infiltrate dominated by eosinophils. Numerous epidemiological studies have related the exacerbation of allergic asthma with an increase in ambient inhalable particulate matter from air pollutants. This is because inhalable particles efficiently deliver airborne allergens deep into the airways, where they can aggravate allergic asthma symptoms. However, the cellular mechanisms by which inhalable particulate allergens (pAgs) potentiate asthmatic symptoms remain unknown, in part because most in vivo and in vitro studies exploring the pathogenesis of allergic asthma use soluble allergens (sAgs). Using a mouse model of allergic asthma, we found that, compared with their sAg counterparts, pAgs triggered markedly heightened airway hyperresponsiveness and pulmonary eosinophilia in allergen-sensitized mice. Mast cells (MCs) were implicated in this divergent response, as the differences in airway inflammatory responses provoked by the physical nature of the allergens were attenuated in MC-deficient mice. The pAgs were found to mediate MC-dependent responses by enhancing retention of pAg/IgE/FcεRI complexes within lipid raft–enriched, CD63+ endocytic compartments, which prolonged IgE/FcεRI-initiated signaling and resulted in heightened cytokine responses. These results reveal how the physical attributes of allergens can co-opt MC endocytic circuitry and signaling responses to aggravate pathological responses of allergic asthma in mice.
We previously reported that the immunogenicity of Hcβtre, a botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) immunogen, was enhanced by fusion to an epithelial cell binding domain, Ad2F, when nasally delivered to mice with cholera toxin (CT). This study was performed to determine if Ad2F would enhance the nasal immunogenicity of Hcβtre in rabbits, an animal model with a nasal cavity anatomy similar to humans. Since CT is not safe for human use, we also tested the adjuvant activity of compound 48/80 (C48/80), a mast cell activating compound previously determined to safely exhibit nasal adjuvant activity in mice.
New Zealand White or Dutch Belted rabbits were nasally immunized with Hcβtre or Hcβtre-Ad2F alone or combined with CT or C48/80, and serum samples were tested for the presence of Hcβtre-specific binding (ELISA) or BoNT/A neutralizing antibodies.
Hcβtre-Ad2F nasally administered with CT induced serum anti-Hcβtre IgG ELISA and BoNT/A neutralizing antibody titers greater than those induced by Hcβtre + CT. C48/80 provided significant nasal adjuvant activity and induced BoNT/A-neutralizing antibodies similar to those induced by CT.
Ad2F enhanced the nasal immunogenicity of Hcβtre, and the mast cell activator C48/80 was an effective adjuvant for nasal immunization in rabbits, an animal model with a nasal cavity anatomy similar to that in humans.
Mast cells have primarily been associated with mediating the pathological secondary responses to allergens in sensitized hosts. In view of the recent evidence for a mast cell role in modulating primary immune responses to pathogens, the likelihood for a role of mast cells in influencing primary immune response to allergens has grown. New evidence suggests that mast cells drive the development of Th2 responses to allergens, particularly when allergen exposure occurs concomitantly with exposure to pathogen products present in the environment. These new roles for mast cells in allergy and infection suggest additional drug targets to prevent development of allergic disease and allergic exacerbations of established disease.
Mast cells (MCs) are best known for eliciting harmful reactions, mostly after primary immunity has been established. Here, we report that during E. coli infection, the primary humoral response in MC-deficient mice is significantly diminished, and was found to be less protective in a urinary tract infection (UTI) model compared to the response from MC-sufficient counterparts. MCs were found to recruit large numbers of dendritic cells (DCs) into the infected tissue site, which eventually migrated into draining lymph nodes (DLNs) over a prolonged time-course. This pattern of trafficking was facilitated by MC generated TNF, which increased the expression of E-selectin on local blood vessels. Antibody blockade of E-selectin inhibited DC recruitment into the site of infection and DLNs, and consequently impaired the primary humoral immune response. Thus, during infection, resident MCs contribute to the primary protective adaptive response through recruitment of DCs from the circulation into infected sites.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is hypothesized to result from stimulation of immune responses against resident intestinal bacteria within a genetically susceptible host. Mast cells may play a critical role in IBD pathogenesis, since they are typically located just beneath the intestinal mucosal barrier and can be activated by bacterial antigens.
This study investigated effects of mast cells on inflammation and associated neoplasia in IBD-susceptible interleukin (IL)-10-deficient mice with and without mast cells. IL-10-deficient mast cells produced more pro-inflammatory cytokines in vitro both constitutively and when triggered, compared with wild type mast cells. However despite this enhanced in vitro response, mast cell-sufficient Il10−/− mice actually had decreased cecal expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interferon (IFN)-γ mRNA, suggesting that mast cells regulate inflammation in vivo. Mast cell deficiency predisposed Il10−/− mice to the development of spontaneous colitis and resulted in increased intestinal permeability in vivo that preceded the development of colon inflammation. However, mast cell deficiency did not affect the severity of IBD triggered by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAID) exposure or helicobacter infection that also affect intestinal permeability.
Mast cells thus appear to have a primarily protective role within the colonic microenvironment by enhancing the efficacy of the mucosal barrier. In addition, although mast cells were previously implicated in progression of sporadic colon cancers, mast cells did not affect the incidence or severity of colonic neoplasia in this inflammation-associated model.
We evaluated the safety and efficacy of the mast cell activator compound 48/80 (C48/80) when used as an adjuvant delivered intradermally (ID) with recombinant anthrax protective antigen (rPA) in comparison with two well-known adjuvants. Mice were vaccinated in the ear pinnae with rPA or rPA + C48/80, CpG oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG), or cholera toxin (CT). All adjuvants induced similar increases in serum anti-rPA IgG and lethal toxin neutralizing antibodies. C48/80 induced a balanced cytokine production (Th1/Th2/Th17) by antigen-restimulated splenocytes, minimal injection site inflammation, and no antigen-specific IgE. Histological analysis demonstrated that vaccination with C48/80 reduced the number of resident mast cells and induced an injection-site neutrophil influx within 24 hours. Our data demonstrate that C48/80 is a safe and effective adjuvant, when used by the intradermal route, to induce protective antibody and balanced Th1/Th2/Th17 responses.
Compound 48/80; adjuvant safety; intradermal vaccination
During infection, signals from the periphery are known to reach draining lymph nodes (DLNs), but how these molecules, such as inflammatory cytokines, traverse the significant distances involved without dilution or degradation remains unclear. We show that peripheral mast cells, upon activation, release stable submicrometer heparin-based particles containing tumor necrosis factor and other proteins. These complexes enter lymphatic vessels and rapidly traffic to the DLNs. This physiological drug delivery system facilitates communication between peripheral sites of inflammation and remote secondary lymphoid tissues.
The urinary tract is one of the most intractable mucosal surfaces for pathogens to colonize. In addition to the natural barriers at this site, potential pathogens have to contend with the vigorous local innate immune system. Several Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) have been identified on epithelial cells of the bladder and the kidneys which mediate a variety of powerful immune responses. A common finding among successful uropathogens is their intrinsic ability to suppress TLR-mediated responses. As antibiotic therapy becomes increasingly ineffective, employing boosters of the innate immune system in the urinary tract may become a viable option.
Caveolin proteins have been implicated in a wide range of cellular functions including lipid raft mediated endocytosis and regulation of cell signaling cascades. Recent discoveries have shown that these proteins are involved not only in regulating these homeostatic cellular functions, but also in the host response to a wide range of different infections. Both caveolin-1 and 2 have been shown to play important roles in pathogen uptake. While caveolin-1 is the most well studied member of this family, a growing body of evidence has now recognized the role of caveolin-2 in these host pathogen interactions and novel host defense mechanisms.
caveolin; lipid rafts; microbial pathogenesis; pneumonia; pseudomonas
The remarkable resistance of the urinary tract to infection has been attributed to its physical properties and the innate immune responses triggered by pattern recognition receptors lining the tract. We report a distinct TLR4 mediated mechanism in bladder epithelial cells (BECs) that abrogates bacterial invasion, a necessary step for successful infection. Compared to controls, uropathogenic type 1 fimbriated Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae invaded BECs of TLR4 mutant mice in 10-fold or greater numbers. TLR4 mediated suppression of bacterial invasion was linked to increased intracellular cAMP levels which negatively impacted Rac-1 mediated mobilization of the cytoskeleton. Artificially increasing intracellular cAMP levels in BECs of TLR4 mutant mice restored resistance to type 1 fimbriated bacterial invasion. This finding reveals a novel function for TLR4 and another facet of bladder innate defense.
The vigorous cytokine response of immune cells to Gram-negative bacteria is primarily mediated by a recognition molecule, Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), which recognizes lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and initiates a series of intracellular NF-κB–associated signaling events. Recently, bladder epithelial cells (BECs) were reported to express TLR4 and to evoke a vigorous cytokine response upon exposure to LPS. We examined intracellular signaling events in human BECs leading to the production of IL-6, a major urinary cytokine, following activation by Escherichia coli and isolated LPS. We observed that in addition to the classical NF-κB–associated pathway, TLR4 triggers a distinct and more rapid signaling response involving, sequentially, Ca2+, adenylyl cyclase 3–generated cAMP, and a transcriptional factor, cAMP response element–binding protein. This capacity of BECs to mobilize secondary messengers and evoke a more rapid IL-6 response might be critical in their role as first responders to microbial challenge in the urinary tract.
In spite of frequent cross contamination by bacteria from the gut, urinary tract infections are relatively infrequent. Although much of the credit goes to cells lining the urinary tract, such as bladder cells, how this is achieved remains unclear. Human bladder cells display, on their surfaces, special molecules called Toll-like receptors, which sense the presence of bacteria and trigger the cells to release a variety of chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines contribute to the recruitment of phagocytic cells from the blood to the site of infection to clear bacteria. In this paper, we reveal that the Toll-like receptor–initiated intracellular signals leading to the production of cytokines by bladder cells involve the same pathway seen in other cells, as well as an additional and more rapid signaling pathway. Rapid production of cytokines by bladder cells will facilitate early clearance of bacteria. Additionally, possession of multiple signaling pathways by bladder cells for producing cytokines is advantageous because bacteria that infect the urinary tract have the capability to suppress certain signaling events that lead to cytokine production by bladder cells.
The fungal secondary metabolite gliotoxin produced by Aspergillus fumigatus has been hypothesized to be important in the development of invasive aspergillosis. In this study, we addressed this hypothesis by disrupting a nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) (encoded by gliP) predicted to be involved in gliotoxin production. Mutants with a disrupted gliP locus failed to produce gliotoxin, which confirmed the role of the NRPS encoded by gliP in gliotoxin biosynthesis. We found no morphological, developmental, or physiological defects in ΔgliP mutant strains. In addition, disruption of gliP resulted in down regulation of gene expression in the gliotoxin biosynthesis gene cluster, which was restored with addition of exogenous gliotoxin. This interesting result suggests a role for gliotoxin in regulating its own production. Culture filtrates from the ΔgliP mutant were unable to inhibit ionomycin-dependent degranulation of mast cells, suggesting a role for gliotoxin in suppressing mast cell degranulation and possibly in disease development. However, the ΔgliP mutant did not have an impact on survival or tissue burden in a murine inhalational model of invasive aspergillosis. This result suggests that gliotoxin is not required for virulence in an immunosuppressed host with an invasive pulmonary infection.
Recent studies have implicated rodent mast cells in the innate immune response to infectious bacteria. We report that cord blood-derived human mast cells (CBHMC) obtained from culture of cord blood progenitors phagocytozed and killed various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and simultaneously released considerable amounts of tumor necrosis factor alpha. Overall, the extent of the endocytic and exocytic response of CBHMC correlated with the number of adherent bacteria. Thus, human mast cells are intrinsically capable of mediating microbial recognition and of actively contributing to the host defense against bacteria.
Neonatal meningitis due to Escherichia coli K1 is a serious illness with unchanged morbidity and mortality rates for the last few decades. The lack of a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of meningitis contributes to this poor outcome. Here, we demonstrate that depletion of macrophages in newborn mice renders the animals resistant to E. coli K1 induced meningitis. The entry of E. coli K1 into macrophages requires the interaction of outer membrane protein A (OmpA) of E. coli K1 with the alpha chain of Fcγ receptor I (FcγRIa, CD64) for which IgG opsonization is not necessary. Overexpression of full-length but not C-terminal truncated FcγRIa in COS-1 cells permits E. coli K1 to enter the cells. Moreover, OmpA binding to FcγRIa prevents the recruitment of the γ-chain and induces a different pattern of tyrosine phosphorylation of macrophage proteins compared to IgG2a induced phosphorylation. Of note, FcγRIa−/− mice are resistant to E. coli infection due to accelerated clearance of bacteria from circulation, which in turn was the result of increased expression of CR3 on macrophages. Reintroduction of human FcγRIa in mouse FcγRIa−/− macrophages in vitro increased bacterial survival by suppressing the expression of CR3. Adoptive transfer of wild type macrophages into FcγRIa−/− mice restored susceptibility to E. coli infection. Together, these results show that the interaction of FcγRI alpha chain with OmpA plays a key role in the development of neonatal meningitis by E. coli K1.
Escherichia coli K1 is the most common cause of meningitis in premature infants; the mortality rate of this disease ranges from 5% to 30%. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of E. coli K1 meningitis is needed to develop new preventative strategies. We have shown that outer membrane protein A (OmpA) of E. coli K1, independent of antibody opsonization, is critical for bacterial entrance and survival within macrophages. Using a newborn mouse model, we found that depletion of macrophages renders the animals resistant to E. coli K1 induced meningitis. OmpA binds to α-chain of Fcγ-receptor I (FcγRIa) in macrophages, but does not induce expected gamma chain association and signaling. FcγRIa knockout mice are resistant to E. coli K1 infection because their macrophages express more CR3 and are thus able to kill bacteria with greater efficiency, preventing the development of high-grade bacteremia, a pre-requisite for the onset of meningitis. These novel observations demonstrate that inhibiting OmpA binding to FcγRIa is a promising therapeutic target for treatment or prevention of neonatal meningitis.