Implications of oxidative stress in the cytotoxicity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa ExoU

Alessandra M Saliba, Maria-Cristina de Assis, Rebeca Nishi, Benoit Raymond, Elizabeth de A Marques, Ulisses Gazos Lopes, Lhousseine Touqui, Maria-Cristina Plotkowski
Microbes and Infection 2006, 8 (2): 450-9
ExoU PLA2-like activity has been shown to account for membrane lysis and acute death of infected cells. Translocation of effector proteins by the type III secretion systems depends on close contact between microbial and host cells. Our finding that both the ExoU-producing PA103 Pseudomonas aeruginosa and its mutant obtained by deletion of exoU adhered poorly to endothelial cells (EC) led to the hypothesis that, in some cells, the amount of injected toxin may not be enough to induce cell lysis but cells would suffer from a long-term effect of ExoU intoxication. To address this question, cells were exposed to both bacteria for 1 h and then treated with gentamicin-containing medium, to eliminate infecting microorganisms. After 24 h, the percentage of viable EC in PA103-infected cultures was significantly lower than in cultures exposed to the mutant, as determined by the MTT assay. Cell death was not likely to depend on the ExoU lytic activity since cell labeling with propidium iodide was similar in cultures infected with both bacterial strains. Bacterial cytotoxicity was significantly reduced by MAFP, a specific inhibitor of cPLA2 and iPLA2. Since the PLA2 activity on membrane phospholipids generates free fatty acid, including arachidonic acid (AA), we next compared the bacterial ability to release AA from infected EC. PA103 was shown to induce a potent AA release that was inhibited by MAFP. AA oxidation by oxygenases generates eicosanoids, known to induce both cell death and proliferation. However neither inhibitors of cyclooxygenases (ibuprofen) nor lipoxygenases (NDGA) reduced the ExoU toxicity. Since non-enzymatic oxidation of AA generates reactive radicals, we next investigated the PA103 ability to induce oxidative stress in infected cells. FACS analysis of cell labeling with the C-11 fluor probe and with anti-4-hydroxynonel antibody revealed a significant peroxidation of cell membrane lipids. These results, together with our finding that PA103-infected EC death was significantly attenuated by alpha-tocopherol, led to the conclusion that AA-induced oxidative stress may be another mechanism of cell damage in the course of infection by ExoU-producing P. aeruginosa.

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