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J Immunol. 2002 Dec 15;169(12):7009-18.

Repression of rac2 mRNA expression by Anaplasma phagocytophila is essential to the inhibition of superoxide production and bacterial proliferation.

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Section of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8031, USA.


Anaplasma phagocytophila, the etiologic agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, is an emerging bacterial pathogen that invades neutrophils and can be cultivated in HL-60 cells. Infected neutrophils and HL-60 cells fail to produce superoxide anion (O(2)(-)), which is partially attributable to the fact that A. phagocytophila inhibits transcription of gp91(phox), an integral component of NADPH oxidase. cDNA microarray and RT-PCR analyses demonstrated that transcription of the gene encoding Rac2, a key component in NADPH oxidase activation, was down-regulated in infected HL-60 cells. Quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated that rac2 mRNA expression was reduced 7-fold in retinoic acid-differentiated HL-60 cells and 50-fold in neutrophils following A. phagocytophila infection. Rac2 protein expression was absent in infected HL-60 cells. Rac1 and Rac2 are interchangeable in their abilities to activate NADPH oxidase. HL-60 cells transfected to express myc-tagged rac1 and gp91(phox) from the CMV immediate early promoter maintained the ability to generate O(2)(-) 120 h postinfection. A. phagocytophila proliferation was severely inhibited in these cells. These results directly attribute the inhibition of rac2 and gp91(phox) transcription to the loss of NADPH oxidase activity in A. phagocytophila-infected cells and demonstrate its importance to bacterial intracellular survival.

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