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Microbes Infect. 2010 Feb;12(2):126-34. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Nov 17.

Regulation of apoptosis and anti-apoptosis signalling by Francisella tularensis.

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Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Rijeka, Medical Faculty, Brace Branchetta 20, 51000 Rijeka, Croatia.


Francisella tularensis induces apoptosis within macrophages but the temporal and spatial modulation through activation of caspase-1, caspase-3, and the anti-apoptosis nuclear transcription factor B (NF-kappaB) is not known. Whether escape of the bacteria into the cytosol is sufficient and/or essential for activation of NF-kappaB is not known. Our results show that F. tularensis subsp. novicida induces sustained nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB at early time points after infection of human monocytes derived macrophages (hMDMs). The sustained nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB is defective in the iglC mutant that fails to escape into the cytosol of macrophages. Nuclear translocation of NF-kappaB by the wild type strain is abolished upon treatment with the NF-kappaB inhibitor caffein acid phenyl ester. While the wild type strain triggers caspase-3 and caspase-1 activation by 6 h post-infection the iglC mutant is defective in triggering both caspases. In hMDMs treated with the apoptosis-inducing agent, staurosporin, there is an induction of cell death in the iglC mutant-infected macrophages despite reduced frequency of caspase-1 and caspase-3 activity. The wt-infected macrophages are resistant to cell death-induced agent. We conclude that although caspase-1 and capsase-3 are triggered within F. tularensis-infected hMDMs during early stages of infection, cell death is delayed, which is correlated with simultaneous activation of NF-kappaB.

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