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Dev Biol. 2000 Oct 15;226(2):242-54.

Vibrio fischeri lipopolysaccharide induces developmental apoptosis, but not complete morphogenesis, of the Euprymna scolopes symbiotic light organ.

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Pacific Biomedical Research Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.


During initiation of the association between the squid host Euprymna scolopes and its bacterial partner Vibrio fischeri, the bacteria induce dramatic morphogenesis of the host symbiotic organ, a portion of which involves the signaling of widespread apoptosis of the cells in a superficial ciliated epithelium on the colonized organ. In this study, we investigated the role in this process of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial cell-surface molecule implicated in the induction of animal cell apoptosis in other systems. Purified V. fischeri LPS, as well as the LPS of V. cholerae, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, and Shigella flexneri, added in the concentration range of pg/ml to ng/ml, induced apoptosis in epithelial cells 10- to 100-fold above background levels. The absence of species specificity suggested that the conserved lipid A portion of the LPS was the responsible component of the LPS molecule. Lipid A from V. fischeri, E. coli, or S. flexneri induced apoptosis. In addition, strains of H. influenzae carrying a mutation in the htrB gene, which is involved in the synthesis of virulent lipid A, showed a diminished ability to induce apoptosis of host cells. Confocal microscopy using fluorescently labeled LPS indicated that the LPS behaves similar to intact bacterial symbionts, interacting with host cells in the internal crypt spaces and not directly with the superficial epithelium. Although LPS was able to induce apoptosis, it did not induce the full morphogenesis of the ciliated surface, suggesting that multiple signals are necessary to mediate the development of this animal-bacterial mutualism.

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