Induction of human beta-defensin 2 by the probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 is mediated through flagellin

Miriam Schlee, Jan Wehkamp, Artur Altenhoefer, Tobias A Oelschlaeger, Eduard F Stange, Klaus Fellermann
Infection and Immunity 2007, 75 (5): 2399-407
Human beta-defensin 2 (hBD-2) is an inducible antimicrobial peptide synthesized by the epithelium to counteract bacterial adherence and invasion. Proinflammatory cytokines, as well as certain bacterial strains, have been identified as potent endogenous inducers. Recently, we have found that hBD-2 induction by probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 was mediated through NF-kappaB- and AP-1-dependent pathways. The aim of the present study was to identify the responsible bacterial factor. E. coli Nissle 1917 culture supernatant was found to be more potent than the pellet, indicating a soluble or shed factor. Chemical analysis demonstrated the factor to be heat resistant and proteinase digestible. Several E. coli Nissle 1917 deletion mutants were constructed and tested for their ability to induce hBD-2 expression in Caco-2 cells. Deletion mutants for flagellin specifically exhibited an impaired immunostimulatory capacity. Reinsertion of the flagellin gene restored the induction capacity to normal levels. Isolated flagellin from E. coli Nissle 1917 and from Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis induced hBD-2 mRNA significantly in contrast to the flagellin of the apathogenic E. coli strain ATCC 25922. H1 flagellin antiserum abrogated hBD-2 expression induced by flagellin as well as E. coli Nissle 1917 supernatant, confirming that flagellin is the major stimulatory factor of E. coli Nissle 1917.

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