• Listeria monocytogenes desensitizes immune cells to subsequent Ca2+ signaling via listeriolysin O-induced depletion of intracellular Ca2+ stores.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Groebe, Lothar; Viegas, Nuno; Weiss, Siegfried; Department of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. nelson.gekara@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008-02)
      Listeriolysin O (LLO), the pore-forming toxin of Listeria monocytogenes, is a prototype of the cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) secreted by several pathogenic and nonpathogenic gram-positive bacteria. In addition to mediating the escape of the bacterium into the cytosol, this toxin is generally believed to be a central player in host-pathogen interactions during L. monocytogenes infection. LLO triggers the influx of Ca(2+) into host cells as well as the release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores. Thus, many of the cellular responses induced by LLO are related to calcium signaling. Interestingly, in this study, we report that prolonged exposure to LLO desensitizes cells to Ca(2+) mobilization upon subsequent stimulations with LLO. Cells preexposed to LLO-positive L. monocytogenes but not to the LLO-deficient Deltahly mutant were found to be highly refractory to Ca(2+) induction in response to receptor-mediated stimulation. Such cells also exhibited diminished Ca(2+) signals in response to stimulation with LLO and thapsigargin. The presented results suggest that this phenomenon is due to the depletion of intracellular Ca(2+) stores. The ability of LLO to desensitize immune cells provides a significant hint about the possible role played by CDCs in the evasion of the immune system by bacterial pathogens.
    • Listeria monocytogenes induces T cell receptor unresponsiveness through pore-forming toxin listeriolysin O.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Zietara, Natalia; Geffers, Robert; Weiss, Siegfried; Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany. nelson.gekara@mims.umu.se (2010-12-01)
      The success of many pathogens relies on their ability to circumvent the innate and adaptive immune defenses. How bacterial pathogens subvert adaptive immune defenses is not clear. Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) represent an expansive family of homologous pore-forming toxins that are produced by more than 20 gram-positive bacterial species. Listeriolysin O (LLO), a prototype CDC, is the main virulence factor of Listeria monocytogenes.
    • Mast cells initiate early anti-Listeria host defences.

      Gekara, Nelson O; Weiss, Siegfried; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Department of Molecular Immunology, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. Nelson.Gekara@helmholtz-hzi.de (2008-01)
      The Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes (L. m.) is the aetiological agent of listeriosis. The early phase listeriosis is characterized by strong innate host responses that play a major role in bacterial clearance. This is emphasized by the fact that mice deficient in T and B cells have a remarkable ability to control infection. Mast cells, among the principal effectors of innate immunity, have largely been studied in the context of hyper-reactive conditions such as allergy and autoimmune diseases. In the present study, we evaluated the significance of mast cells during the early phase of listeriosis. Compared with controls, mice depleted of mast cells showed hundred-fold higher bacterial burden in spleen and liver and were significantly impaired in neutrophil mobilization. Although L. m. interacts with and triggers mast cell degranulation, bacteria were hardly found within such cells. Mainly neutrophils and macrophages phagozytosed L. m. Thus, mast cells control infection not via direct bacterial uptake, but by initiating neutrophils influx to the site of infection. We show that this is initiated by pre-synthesized TNF-alpha, rapidly secreted by mast cell upon activation by L. m. We also show that upon recruitment, neutrophils also become activated and additionally secrete TNF-alpha thus amplifying the anti-L. m. inflammatory response.
    • Potentiation of epithelial innate host responses by intercellular communication.

      Dolowschiak, Tamas; Chassin, Cécilia; Ben Mkaddem, Sanae; Fuchs, Thilo M; Weiss, Siegfried; Vandewalle, Alain; Hornef, Mathias W; Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany. (2010)
      The epithelium efficiently attracts immune cells upon infection despite the low number of pathogenic microbes and moderate levels of secreted chemokines per cell. Here we examined whether horizontal intercellular communication between cells may contribute to a coordinated response of the epithelium. Listeria monocytogenes infection, transfection, and microinjection of individual cells within a polarized intestinal epithelial cell layer were performed and activation was determined at the single cell level by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Surprisingly, chemokine production after L. monocytogenes infection was primarily observed in non-infected epithelial cells despite invasion-dependent cell activation. Whereas horizontal communication was independent of gap junction formation, cytokine secretion, ion fluxes, or nitric oxide synthesis, NADPH oxidase (Nox) 4-dependent oxygen radical formation was required and sufficient to induce indirect epithelial cell activation. This is the first report to describe epithelial cell-cell communication in response to innate immune activation. Epithelial communication facilitates a coordinated infectious host defence at the very early stage of microbial infection.