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Cell Microbiol. 2007 Aug;9(8):1909-21. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) inactivate innate immune responses prior to compromising epithelial barrier function.

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Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Medical School, University of Newcastle, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, UK.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infection of the human small intestine induces severe watery diarrhoea linked to a rather weak inflammatory response despite EPEC's in vivo capacity to disrupt epithelial barrier function. Here, we demonstrate that EPEC flagellin triggers the secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin (IL)-8, from small (Caco-2) and large (T84) intestinal epithelia model systems. Interestingly, IL-8 secretion required basolateral infection of T84 cells implying that flagellin must penetrate the epithelial barrier. In contrast, apical infection of Caco-2 cells induced IL-8 secretion but less potently than basolateral infections. Importantly, infection of Caco-2, but not T84 cells rapidly inhibited IL-8 secretion by a mechanism dependent on the delivery of effectors through a translocation system encoded on the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE). Moreover, EPEC prevents the phosphorylation-associated activation of multiple kinase pathways regulating IL-8 gene transcription by a mechanism apparently independent of LEE-encoded effectors and four non-LEE-encoded effectors. Crucially, our studies reveal that EPEC inhibits the capacity of the cells to secrete IL-8 in response to bacterial antigens and inflammatory cytokines prior to disrupting barrier function by a distinct mechanism. Thus, these findings also lend themselves to a plausible mechanism to explain the absence of a strong inflammatory response in EPEC-infected humans.

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