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Int J Med Microbiol. 2016 Nov;306(7):517-528. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2016.06.006. Epub 2016 Jun 28.

Propionibacterium acnes inhibits FOXM1 and induces cell cycle alterations in human primary prostate cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology, Berlin, Germany. Electronic address:


Propionibacterium acnes has been detected in diseased human prostate tissue, and cell culture experiments suggest that the bacterium can establish a low-grade inflammation. Here, we investigated its impact on human primary prostate epithelial cells. Microarray analysis confirmed the inflammation-inducing capability of P. acnes but also showed deregulation of genes involved in the cell cycle. qPCR experiments showed that viable P. acnes downregulates a master regulator of cell cycle progression, FOXM1. Flow cytometry experiments revealed that P. acnes increases the number of cells in S-phase. We tested the hypothesis that a P. acnes-produced berninamycin-like thiopeptide is responsible for this effect, since it is related to the FOXM1 inhibitor siomycin. The thiopeptide biosynthesis gene cluster was strongly expressed; it is present in subtype IB of P. acnes, but absent from type IA, which is most abundant on human skin. A knock-out mutant lacking the gene encoding the berninamycin-like peptide precursor was unable to downregulate FOXM1 and to halt the cell cycle. Our study reveals a novel host cell-interacting activity of P. acnes.


Berninamycin; Cell cycle; FOXM1; Primary prostate epithelial cells; Propionibacterium acnes; Thiopeptide

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