• 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.
    • 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.