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Cell Death Dis. 2011 Feb 24;2:e122. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2011.4.

Gadd45α activity is the principal effector of Shigella mitochondria-dependent epithelial cell death in vitro and ex vivo.

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Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie Charles Darwin, Sapienza-Università di Roma, Roma, Italy.


Modulation of death is a pathogen strategy to establish residence and promote survival in host cells and tissues. Shigella spp. are human pathogens that invade colonic mucosa, where they provoke lesions caused by their ability to manipulate the host cell responses. Shigella spp. induce various types of cell death in different cell populations. However, they are equally able to protect host cells from death. Here, we have investigated on the molecular mechanisms and cell effectors governing the balance between survival and death in epithelial cells infected with Shigella. To explore these aspects, we have exploited both, the HeLa cell invasion assay and a novel ex vivo human colon organ culture model of infection that mimics natural conditions of shigellosis. Our results definitely show that Shigella induces a rapid intrinsic apoptosis of infected cells, via mitochondrial depolarization and the ensuing caspase-9 activation. Moreover, for the first time we identify the eukaryotic stress-response factor growth arrest and DNA damage 45α as a key player in the induction of the apoptotic process elicited by Shigella in epithelial cells, revealing an unexplored role of this molecule in the course of infections sustained by invasive pathogens.

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