Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common inherited lethal disease in Caucasians which results in multiorgan dysfunction. However, 85% of the deaths are due to pulmonary infections. Infection by Burkholderia cenocepacia (B. cepacia) is a particularly lethal threat to CF patients because it causes severe and persistent lung inflammation and is resistant to nearly all available antibiotics. In CFTR ΔF508 (ΔF508) mouse macrophages, B. cepacia persists in vacuoles that do not fuse with the lysosomes and mediates increased production of IL-1β. It is believed that intracellular bacterial survival contributes to the persistence of the bacterium. Here we show for the first time that in wild-type but not in ΔF508 macrophages, many B. cepacia reside in autophagosomes that fuse with lysosomes at later stages of infection. Accordingly, association and intracellular survival of B. cepacia are higher in CFTR-ΔF508 macrophages than in WT macrophages. An autophagosome is a compartment that engulfs nonfunctional organelles and parts of the cytoplasm then delivers them to the lysosome for degradation to produce nutrients during periods of starvation or stress. Furthermore, we show that B. cepacia downregulates autophagy genes in WT and ΔF508 macrophages. However, autophagy dysfunction is more pronounced in ΔF508 macrophages since they already have compromised autophagy activity. We demonstrate that the autophagystimulating agent, rapamycin markedly decreases B. cepacia infection in vitro by enhancing the clearance of B. cepacia via induced autophagy. In vivo, rapamycin decreases bacterial burden in the lungs of CF mice and drastically reduces signs of lung inflammation. Together, our studies reveal that if efficiently activated, autophagy can control B. cepacia infection and ameliorate the associated inflammation. Therefore, autophagy is a novel target for new drug development for CF patients to control B. cepacia infection and accompanying inflammation.
autophagy; rapamycin; cystic fibrosis; host-pathogen interaction; Burkholderia cenocepacia; inflammation; macrophages
Burkholderia cenocepacia is an opportunistic pathogen that causes chronic infection and induces progressive respiratory inflammation in cystic fibrosis patients. Recognition of bacteria by mononuclear cells generally results in the activation of caspase-1 and processing of IL-1β, a major proinflammatory cytokine. In this study, we report that human pyrin is required to detect intracellular B. cenocepacia leading to IL-1β processing and release. This inflammatory response involves the host adapter molecule ASC and the bacterial type VI secretion system (T6SS). Human monocytes and THP-1 cells stably expressing either small interfering RNA against pyrin or YFP–pyrin and ASC (YFP–ASC) were infected with B. cenocepacia and analyzed for inflammasome activation. B. cenocepacia efficiently activates the inflammasome and IL-1β release in monocytes and THP-1. Suppression of pyrin levels in monocytes and THP-1 cells reduced caspase-1 activation and IL-1β release in response to B. cenocepacia challenge. In contrast, overexpression of pyrin or ASC induced a robust IL-1β response to B. cenocepacia, which correlated with enhanced host cell death. Inflammasome activation was significantly reduced in cells infected with T6SS-defective mutants of B. cenocepacia, suggesting that the inflammatory reaction is likely induced by an as yet uncharacterized effector(s) of the T6SS. Together, we show for the first time, to our knowledge, that in human mononuclear cells infected with B. cenocepacia, pyrin associates with caspase-1 and ASC forming an inflammasome that upregulates mononuclear cell IL-1β processing and release.
Endotoxin administration recapitulates many of the host responses to sepsis. Inhibitors of the cysteine protease caspase 1 have long been sought as a therapeutic because mice lacking caspase 1 are resistant to LPS-induced endotoxic shock. According to current thinking, caspase 1-mediated shock requires the proinflammatory caspase 1 substrates IL-1β and IL-18. We show, however, that mice lacking both IL-1β and IL-18 are normally susceptible to LPS-induced splenocyte apoptosis and endotoxic shock. This finding indicates the existence of another caspase 1-dependent mediator of endotoxemia. Reduced serum high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) levels in caspase 1-deficient mice correlated with their resistance to LPS. A critical role for HMGB1 in endotoxemia was confirmed when mice deficient for IL-1β and IL-18 were protected from a lethal dose of LPS by pretreatment with HMGB1-neutralizing Abs. We found that HMGB1 secretion from LPS-primed macrophages required the inflammasome components apoptotic speck protein containing a caspase activation and recruitment domain (ASC), caspase 1 and Nalp3, whereas HMGB1 secretion from macrophages infected in vitro with Salmonella typhimurium was dependent on caspase 1 and Ipaf. Thus, HMGB1 secretion, which is critical for endotoxemia, occurs downstream of inflammasome assembly and caspase 1 activation.
Pathogen recognition by intracellular sensors involves the assembly of a caspase-1 activation machine termed the inflammasome. Intracellular pathogens like Francisella that gain access to the cytosolic detection systems are useful tools to uncover the details of caspase-1 activation events. This review overviews Francisella function in the mononuclear phagocyte with particular attention to inflammasome versus pyroptosome roles and outlines differences between mouse and human caspase-1 activation pathways. Specific attention is placed on functional differences between human and murine pyrin as an intracellular recognition molecule for Francisella.
AIM2; Francisella; IL-1β; inflammasome; M-CSF; monocytes; pyrin; pyroptosome
The host’s inflammatory response to sepsis can be divided into two phases, the initial detection and response to the pathogen initiated by the innate immune response, and the persistent inflammatory state characterized by multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). New therapies aimed at pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) particularly the TLRs and the NOD-like receptors offer hope to suppress the initial inflammatory response in early sepsis and to bolster this response in late sepsis. The persistence of MODS after the initial inflammatory surge can also be a determining factor to host survival. MODS is due to the cellular damage and death induced by sepsis. The mechanism of this cell death depends in part upon mitochondrial dysfunction. Damaged mitochondria have increased membrane permeability prompting their autophagic removal if few mitochondria are involved but apoptotic cell death may occur if the mitochondrial losses are more extensive. In addition. severe loss of mitochondria results in low cell energy stores, necrotic cell death, and increased inflammation driven by the release of cell components such as HMGB1. Therapies, which aim at improving cellular energy reserves such as the promotion of mitochondrial biogenesis by insulin, may have a role in future sepsis therapies. Finally, both the inflammatory responses and the susceptibility to organ failure may be modulated by nutritional status and micronutrients, such as zinc, Therapies aimed at micronutrient repletion may further augment approaches targeting PRR function and mitochondrial viability.
Rationale: Caspase-1 processes interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and IL-18 but may also contribute to apoptosis. In this context, caspase-1 knockout mice have been shown to be protected from endotoxin-induced mortality, whereas IL-1β knockout mice are not protected.
Objectives: We therefore sought to delineate the mechanisms responsible for the differential responses between caspase-1 and IL-1β knockout mice.
Methods: Caspase-1 knockout, IL-1β knockout, and IL-1β/IL-18 double knockout mice were compared with wild-type mice for survival after intraperitoneal challenge with live Escherichia coli.
Measurements and Main Results: Caspase-1 knockout animals were protected from bacterial challenge, whereas wild-type, IL-1β knockout, and IL-1β/IL-18 double knockout animals were not. Wild-type animals and both IL-1β knockout and IL-1β/IL-18 double knockout mice demonstrated significant splenic B lymphocyte apoptosis, which was absent in the caspase-1 knockout mice. Importantly, IL-1β/IL-18 double knockout mice were protected from splenic cell apoptosis and sepsis-induced mortality by the caspase inhibitor zVAD-fmk. Furthermore, wild-type but not caspase-1 knockout splenic B lymphocytes induced peritoneal macrophages to assume an inhibitory phenotype.
Conclusion: Taken together, these findings suggest that caspase-1 is important in the host response to sepsis at least in part via its ability to regulate sepsis-induced splenic cell apoptosis.
apoptosis; caspase inhibition; septic shock; spleen
Macrophages mediate crucial innate immune responses via caspase-1-dependent processing and secretion of IL-1β and IL-18. While wild type Salmonella typhimurium infection is lethal to mice, a strain that persistently expresses flagellin was cleared by the cytosolic flagellin detection pathway via NLRC4 activation of caspase-1; however, this clearance was independent of IL-1β and IL-18. Instead, caspase-1 induced pyroptotic cell death, released bacteria from macrophages and exposed them to uptake and killing by reactive oxygen species in neutrophils. Similarly, caspase-1 cleared unmanipulated Legionella and Burkholderia by cytokine-independent mechanisms. This demonstrates for the first time that caspase-1 clears intracellular bacteria in vivo independent of IL-1β and IL-18, and establishes pyroptosis as an efficient mechanism of bacterial clearance by the innate immune system.
Caspase-1; pyroptosis; IL-1β Salmonella; cell death
The apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a caspase recruitment domain (Asc) is an adaptor molecule that mediates inflammatory and apoptotic signals. Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of Legionnaire's pneumonia. L. pneumophila is able to cause pneumonia in immuno-compromised humans but not in most inbred mice. Murine macrophages that lack the ability to activate caspase-1, such as caspase-1−/− and Nlrc4−/− allow L. pneumophila infection. This permissiveness is attributed mainly to the lack of active caspase-1 and the absence of its down stream substrates such as caspase-7. However, the role of Asc in control of L. pneumophila infection in mice is unclear. Here we show that caspase-1 is moderately activated in Asc−/− macrophages and that this limited activation is required and sufficient to restrict L. pneumophila growth. Moreover, Asc-independent activation of caspase-1 requires bacterial flagellin and is mainly detected in cellular extracts but not in culture supernatants. We also demonstrate that the depletion of Asc from permissive macrophages enhances bacterial growth by promoting L. pneumophila-mediated activation of the NF-κB pathway and decreasing caspase-3 activation. Taken together, our data demonstrate that L. pneumophila infection in murine macrophages is controlled by several mechanisms: Asc-independent activation of caspase-1 and Asc-dependent regulation of NF-κB and caspase-3 activation.
inflammasome; caspase-1; Legionella pneumophila; Asc
The ability of Legionella pneumophila to cause pneumonia is determined by its capability to evade the immune system and grow within human monocytes and their derived macrophages. Human monocytes efficiently activate caspase-1 in response to Salmonella but not to L. pneumophila. The molecular mechanism for the lack of inflammasome activation during L. pneumophila infection is unknown. Evaluation of the expression of several inflammasome components in human monocytes during L. pneumophila infection revealed that the expression of the apoptosis-associated speck-like protein (ASC) and the NOD-like receptor NLRC4 are significantly down-regulated in human monocytes. Exogenous expression of ASC maintained the protein level constant during L. pneumophila infection and conveyed caspase-1 activation and restricted the growth of the pathogen. Further depletion of ASC with siRNA was accompanied with improved NF-κB activation and enhanced L. pneumophila growth. Therefore, our data demonstrate that L. pneumophila manipulates ASC levels to evade inflammasome activation and grow in human monocytes. By targeting ASC, L. pneumophila modulates the inflammasome, the apoptosome, and NF-κB pathway simultaneously.
Caspase; Cellular Immune Response; Immunology; Inflammation; Innate Immunity; ASC; Legionella; NOD-like Receptors; Human Monocytes; Inflammasome
Necrotic cells evoke potent innate immune responses through unclear mechanisms. The mitochondrial fraction of the cell retains constituents of its bacterial ancestors, including N-formyl peptides, which are potentially immunogenic. Thus, we hypothesized that the mitochondrial fraction of the cell, particularly N-formyl peptides, contributes significantly to the activation of monocytes by necrotic cells.
Human peripheral blood monocytes were incubated with necrotic cell fractions and mitochondrial proteins in order to investigate their potential for immune cell activation.
University medical center research laboratory.
Healthy human adults served as blood donors.
Measurements and Main Results
Human blood monocyte activation was measured after treatment with cytosolic, nuclear and mitochondrial fractions of necrotic HepG2 cells or necrotic HepG2 cells depleted of N-formyl peptides [Rho(0) cells]. The specific role of the high affinity formyl peptide receptor (FPR) was then tested using specific pharmacological inhibitors and RNA-silencing. The capacity of mitochondrial N-formyl peptides to activate monocytes was confirmed using a synthetic peptide conforming to the N-terminus of mitochondrial NADH subunit 6. The results demonstrated that mitochondrial cell fractions most potently activated monocytes, and IL-8 was selectively released at low protein concentrations. Mitochondria from Rho(0) cells induced minimal monocyte IL-8 release, and specific pharmacological inhibitors and RNA-silencing confirmed that FPR contributes significantly to monocyte IL-8 responses to both necrotic cells and mitochondrial proteins. N-formyl peptides alone did not induce monocyte IL-8 release; whereas, the combination of mitochondrial N-formyl peptides and mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) dramatically increased IL-8 release from monocytes. Likewise, HMGB1, the nuclear homologue of TFAM, did not induce monocyte IL-8 release unless combined with mitochondrial N-formyl peptides.
Interactions between mitochondrial N-formyl peptides and FPR in the presence of other mitochondrial antigens (e.g., TFAM) contributes significantly to the activation of monocytes by necrotic cells.
Innate immunity; Inflammation; N-formyl proteins; TFAM; HMGB1; Necrosis
Rationale: Little is known about the genetic regulation of granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis.
Objectives: To determine if tissue gene array analysis would identify novel genes engaged in inflammation and lung remodeling in patients with sarcoidosis.
Methods: Gene expression analysis was performed on tissues obtained from patients with sarcoidosis at the time of diagnosis (untreated) (n = 6) compared with normal lung tissue (n = 6). Expression of select genes was further confirmed in lung tissue from a second series of patients with sarcoidosis and disease-free control subjects (n = 11 per group) by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Interactive gene networks were identified in patients with sarcoidosis using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (Ingenuity Systems, Inc., Redwood, CA) software. The expression of proteins corresponding to selected overexpressed genes was determined using fluorokine multiplex analysis, and immunohistochemistry. Selected genes and proteins were then analyzed in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in an independent series of patients with sarcoidosis (n = 36) and control subjects (n = 12).
Measurements and Main Results: A gene network engaged in Th1-type responses was most significantly overexpressed in the sarcoidosis lung tissues, including genes not previously reported in the context of sarcoidosis (e.g., IL-7). MMP-12 and ADAMDEC1 transcripts were most highly expressed (> 25-fold) in sarcoidosis lung tissues, corresponding with increased protein expression by immunohistochemistry. MMP-12 and ADAMDEC1 gene and protein expression were increased in bronchoalveolar lavage samples from patients with sarcoidosis, correlating with disease severity.
Conclusions: Tissue gene expression analyses provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of pulmonary sarcoidosis. MMP-12 and ADAMDEC1 emerge as likely mediators of lung damage and/or remodeling and may serve as markers of disease activity.
genetic; gene array; granuloma; lung; BAL
Mycoplasma contamination of cultured cell lines is a serious problem in research, altering cellular response to different stimuli thus compromising experimental results. We found that chronic mycoplasma contamination of THP-1 cells suppresses responses of THP-1 cells to TLR stimuli. For example, E. coli LPS induced IL-1 β was suppressed by 6 fold and IL-8 by 10 fold in mycoplasma positive THP-1 cells. Responses to live F. novicida challenge were suppressed by 50-fold and 40-fold respectively for IL-1β and IL-8. Basal TLR4 expression level in THP-1 cells was decreased by mycoplasma by 2.4-fold (p = 0.0003). Importantly, cell responses to pathogen associated molecular patterns are completely restored by mycoplasma clearance with Plasmocin. Thus, routine screening of cell lines for mycoplasma is important for the maintenance of reliable experimental data and contaminated cell lines can be restored to their baseline function with antibiotic clearance of mycoplasma.
Although much is known about classic IFNγ inducers, little is known about the IFNγ inducing capability of inflammasome-activated monocytes. In this study, supernatants from LPS/ATP-stimulated human monocytes were analyzed for their ability to induce IFNγ production by KG-1 cells. Unexpectedly, monocyte-derived IFNγ inducing activity was detected, but it was completely inhibited by IL-1β, not IL-18 blockade. Moreover, size-fractionation of the monocyte conditioned media dramatically reduced the IFNγ inducing activity of IL-1β, suggesting that IL-1β requires a cofactor to induce IFNγ production in KG-1 cells. Because TNFα is known to synergize with IL-1β for various gene products, it was studied as the putative IL-1β synergizing factor. Although recombinant TNFα (rTNFα) alone had no IFNγ inducing activity, neutralization of TNFα in the monocyte conditioned media inhibited the IFNγ inducing activity. Furthermore, rTNFα restored the IFNγ inducing activity of the size-fractionated IL-1β. Finally, rTNFα synergized with rIL-1β, as well as with rIL-1α and rIL-18, for KG-1 IFNγ release. These studies demonstrate a synergistic role between TNFα and IL-1 family members in the induction of IFNγ production and give caution to interpretations of KG-1 functional assays designed to detect functional IL-18.
Interleukin-1; caspase-1; TNFα; KG-1 cell line; IFNγ
Apoptosis depends upon the activation of intracellular caspases which are classically induced by either an intrinsic (mitochondrial based) or extrinsic (cytokine) pathway. However, in the process of explaining how endotoxin activated monocytes are able to induce apoptosis of vascular smooth muscle cells when co-cultured, we uncovered a transcellular apoptosis inducing pathway that utilizes caspase-1 containing microvesicles. Endotoxin stimulated monocytes induce the cell death of VSMCs but this activity is found in 100,000 g pellets of cell free supernatants of these monocytes. This activity is not a direct effect of endotoxin, and is inhibited by the caspase-1 inhibitor YVADcmk but not by inhibitors of Fas-L, IL-1β and IL-18. Importantly, the apoptosis inducing activity co-purifies with 100 nm sized microvesicles as determined by TEM of the pellets. These microvesicles contain caspase-1 and caspase-1 encapsulation is required since disruption of microvesicular integrity destroys the apoptotic activity but not the caspase-1 enzymatic activity. Thus, monocytes are capable of delivering a cell death message which depends upon the release of microvesicles containing functional caspase-1. This transcellular apoptosis induction pathway describes a novel pathway for inflammation induced programmed cell death.
IκBζ is a novel member of the IκB family of NFκB regulators, which modulates NFκB activity in the nucleus, rather than controlling its nuclear translocation. IκBζ is specifically induced by IL-1β and several TLR ligands and positively regulates NFκB-mediated transcription of genes such as IL-6 and NGAL as an NFκB binding co-factor. We recently reported that the IL-1 family cytokines, IL-1β and IL-18, strongly synergize with TNFα for IFNγ production in KG-1 cells, whereas the same cytokines alone have minimal effects on IFNγ production. Given the striking similarities between the IL-1R and IL-18R signaling pathways we hypothesized that a common signaling event or gene product downstream of these receptors is responsible for the observed synergy. We investigated IκBζ protein expression in KG-1 cells upon stimulation with IL-1β, IL-18 and TNFα. Our results demonstrated that IL-18, as well as IL-1β, induced moderate IκBζ expression in KG-1 cells. However, TNFα synergized with IL-1β and IL-18, whereas by itself it had a minimal effect on IκBζ expression. NFκB inhibition resulted in decreased IL-1β/IL-18/TNFα-stimulated IFNγ release. Moreover, silencing of IκBζ expression led to a specific decrease in IFNγ production. Overall, our data suggests that IκBζ positively regulates NFκB-mediated IFNγ production in KG-1 cells.
Rationale: Monocytes are central to the initiation of the inflammatory response in sepsis, with caspase-1 activation playing a key role. Monocyte deactivation during sepsis has been linked to poor outcomes.
Objectives: Given the importance of caspase-1 in the immune response, we investigated whether monocytes from patients early in septic shock demonstrate alterations in mRNAs for caspase-1–related molecules.
Methods: Patients with septic shock (n = 26; age >18 years), critically ill intensive care unit patients (n = 20), and healthy volunteers (n = 22) were enrolled in a prospective cohort study in a university intensive care unit. Demographic, biological, physiologic, and plasma cytokine measurements were obtained. Monocytes were assayed for ex vivo tumor necrosis factor-α production, and fresh monocyte mRNA was analyzed by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction for Toll-like receptors, NOD-LRR proteins, cytokines, and nuclear factor-κB–related genes.
Measurements and Main Results: Relative copy numbers for the inflammasome mRNAs for ASC, caspase-1, NALP1, and Pypaf-7 were significantly lower in patients with septic shock compared with critically ill control subjects. NALP1 mRNA levels were linked to survival in patients with sepsis (P = 0.0068) and correlated with SAPS II scores (r = −0.63).
Conclusions: These data suggest that monocyte deactivation occurs during the earliest stages of the systemic inflammatory response and that changes in inflammasome mRNA expression are part of this process.
inflammasome; monocytes; septic shock; messenger RNA; NALP1
Macrophages are unique innate immune cells that play an integral role in the defense of the host by virtue of their ability to recognize, engulf, and kill pathogens while sending out danger signals via cytokines to recruit and activate inflammatory cells. It is becoming increasingly clear that purinergic signaling events are essential components of the macrophage response to pathogen challenges and disorders such as sepsis may be, at least in part, regulated by these important sensors. The activation of the P2X7 receptor is a powerful event in the regulation of the caspase-1 inflammasome. We provide evidence that the inflammasome activation requires “priming” of macrophages prior to ATP activation of the P2X7R. Inhibition of the inflammasome activation by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, AG126, suggests regulation by phosphorylation. Finally, the P2X7R may also be activated by other elements of the host response such as the antimicrobial peptide LL-37, which adds a new, physiologically relevant agonist to the P2X7R pathway. Therapeutic approaches to inflammation and sepsis will certainly be enhanced by an increased understanding of how purinergic receptors modulate the inflammasomes.
Macrophage; IL-18; LPS; Priming; AG126; Tyrosine kinase
Francisella tularensis is a gram-negative facultative bacterium that causes the disease tularemia, even upon exposure to low numbers of bacteria. One critical characteristic of Francisella is its ability to dampen or subvert the host immune response. In order to help understand the mechanisms by which this occurs, we performed Affymetrix microarray analysis on transcripts from blood monocytes infected with the virulent Type A Schu S4 strain. Results showed that expression of several host response genes were reduced such as those associated with interferon signaling, Toll-like receptor signaling, autophagy and phagocytosis. When compared to microarrays from monocytes infected with the less virulent F. tularensis subsp. novicida, we found qualitative differences and also a general pattern of quantitatively reduced pro-inflammatory signaling pathway genes in the Schu S4 strain. Notably, the PI3K / Akt1 pathway appeared specifically down-regulated following Schu S4 infection and a concomitantly lower cytokine response was observed. This study identifies several new factors potentially important in host cell subversion by the virulent Type A F. tularensis that may serve as novel targets for drug discovery.
Francisella tularensis, a Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogen infecting principally macrophages and monocytes, is the etiological agent of tularemia. Macrophage responses to F. tularensis infection include the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-12, which is critical for immunity against infection. Molecular mechanisms regulating production of these inflammatory mediators are poorly understood. Herein we report that the SH2 domain-containing inositol phosphatase (SHIP) is phosphorylated upon infection of primary murine macrophages with the genetically related F. novicida, and negatively regulates F. novicida–induced cytokine production. Analyses of the molecular details revealed that in addition to activating the MAP kinases, F. novicida infection also activated the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in these cells. Interestingly, SHIP-deficient macrophages displayed enhanced Akt activation upon F. novicida infection, suggesting elevated PI3K-dependent activation pathways in absence of SHIP. Inhibition of PI3K/Akt resulted in suppression of F. novicida–induced cytokine production through the inhibition of NFκB. Consistently, macrophages lacking SHIP displayed enhanced NFκB-driven gene transcription, whereas overexpression of SHIP led to decreased NFκB activation. Thus, we propose that SHIP negatively regulates F. novicida–induced inflammatory cytokine response by antagonizing the PI3K/Akt pathway and suppressing NFκB-mediated gene transcription. A detailed analysis of phosphoinositide signaling may provide valuable clues for better understanding the pathogenesis of tularemia.
Francisella tularensis is an intracellular Gram-negative bacterium that causes the disease tularemia. The bacteria infect macrophages and replicate within the host cell. Macrophages respond to the infection by producing pro-inflammatory cytokines in an effort to combat the infection. The intracellular signaling events that are involved in host cell responses are not fully understood. Much less understood are mechanisms that regulate these responses. In this study, the authors define a negative regulatory role for the inositol phosphatase SHIP during Francisella infection of mouse macrophages. The study demonstrates that SHIP is activated in infected cells and serves to down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokine production. The authors have examined the molecular mechanism underlying this negative regulation, and show that SHIP acts upstream of NFκB, an important transcription factor involved in inflammatory cytokine gene transcription, and dampens its activation. This effect of SHIP appears to be mediated through the regulation of the PI3 kinase pathway. This study establishes a novel and critical role for SHIP in the regulation of macrophage inflammatory response to Francisella bacteria.
Legionella pneumophila (L. pneumophila), the causative agent of a severe form of pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease, replicates in human monocytes and macrophages. Most inbred mouse strains are restrictive to L. pneumophila infection except for the A/J, Nlrc4−/− (Ipaf−/−), and caspase-1−/− derived macrophages. Particularly, caspase-1 activation is detected during L. pneumophila infection of murine macrophages while absent in human cells. Recent in vitro experiments demonstrate that caspase-7 is cleaved by caspase-1. However, the biological role for caspase-7 activation downstream of caspase-1 is not known. Furthermore, whether this reaction is pertinent to the apoptosis or to the inflammation pathway or whether it mediates a yet unidentified effect is unclear. Using the intracellular pathogen L. pneumophila, we show that, upon infection of murine macrophages, caspase-7 was activated downstream of the Nlrc4 inflammasome and required caspase-1 activation. Such activation of caspase-7 was mediated by flagellin and required a functional Naip5. Remarkably, mice lacking caspase-7 and its macrophages allowed substantial L. pneumophila replication. Permissiveness of caspase-7−/− macrophages to the intracellular pathogen was due to defective delivery of the organism to the lysosome and to delayed cell death during early stages of infection. These results reveal a new mechanism for caspase-7 activation downstream of the Nlrc4 inflammasome and present a novel biological role for caspase-7 in host defense against an intracellular bacterium.
Legionella pneumophila causes a severe form of pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease. In human macrophages, L. pneumophila establishes special vacuoles that do not fuse with the lysosome and grows intracellularly. However, in mouse macrophages, the bacteria are efficiently delivered to the lysosome for degradation. Importantly, caspase-1 is activated when L. pneumophila infects mouse macrophages, but not when it infects human cells. Caspase-1 activation promotes the fusion of the L. pneumophila vacuole with the lysosome and macrophage death. However, the caspase-1 substrate mediating such effects is unknown. Experiments performed in vitro demonstrate that caspase-7 is a substrate of caspase-1. Yet, it is not known if the reaction takes place within the macrophage, and it is unclear if it has any biological effect. In this study we show that, in mouse macrophages, caspase-7 is activated by L. pneumophila downstream of caspase-1 and requires the host receptors Nlrc4 and Naip5. Remarkably, caspase-7 activation during L. pneumophila infection restricts growth by promoting early macrophage death and efficient delivery of the organism to the lysosome. Consequently, L. pneumophila grows in the macrophages and the lungs of caspase-7−/− mice. Therefore, we demonstrate a novel caspase-7 activation pathway that contributes to the restriction of L. pneumophila infection.