ExoU activates NF-κB and increases IL-8/KC secretion during Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection

Carolina Diettrich Mallet de Lima, Teresa Cristina Calegari-Silva, Renata Meirelles Santos Pereira, Sabrina Alves de Oliveira Lima Santos, Ulisses Gazos Lopes, Maria-Cristina Maciel Plotkowski, Alessandra Mattos Saliba
PloS One 2012, 7 (7): e41772
ExoU, a Pseudomonas aeruginosa cytotoxin injected into host cytosol by type III secretion system, exhibits a potent proinflammatory activity that leads to a marked recruitment of neutrophils to infected tissues. To evaluate the mechanisms that account for neutrophil infiltration, we investigated the effect of ExoU on IL-8 secretion and NF-κB activation. We demonstrate that ExoU increases IL-8 mRNA and protein levels in P. aeruginosa-infected epithelial and endothelial cell lines. Also, ExoU induces the nuclear translocation of p65/p50 NF-κB transactivator heterodimer as well as NF-κB-dependent transcriptional activity. ChIP assays clearly revealed that ExoU promotes p65 binding to NF-κB site in IL-8 promoter and the treatment of cultures with the NF-κB inhibitor Bay 11-7082 led to a significant reduction in IL-8 mRNA levels and protein secretion induced by ExoU. These results were corroborated in a murine model of pneumonia that revealed a significant reduction in KC secretion and neutrophil infiltration in bronchoalveolar lavage when mice were treated with Bay 11-7082 before infection with an ExoU-producing strain. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that ExoU activates NF-κB, stimulating IL-8 expression and secretion during P. aeruginosa infection, and unveils a new mechanism triggered by this important virulence factor to interfere in host signaling pathways.

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