Enterohemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) is an important foodborne pathogen in the developed world and can cause life-threatening disease particularly in children. EHEC persists in the human gut by adhering intimately to colonic epithelium and forming characteristic attaching/effacing lesions. In this study, we investigated the innate immune response to EHEC infection with particular focus on antimicrobial peptide and protein expression by colonic epithelium. Using a novel human colonic biopsy model and polarized T84 colon carcinoma cells, we found that EHEC infection induced expression of human β-defensin 2 (hBD2), whereas hBD1, hBD3, LL-37, and lysozyme remained unchanged. Infection with specific EHEC deletion mutants demonstrated that this was dependent on flagellin, and apical exposure to purified flagellin was sufficient to stimulate hBD2 and also interleukin (IL)-8 expression ex vivo and in vitro. Flagellin-mediated hBD2 induction was significantly reduced by inhibitors of NF-κB, MAP kinase p38 and JNK but not ERK1/2. Interestingly, IL-8 secretion by polarized T84 cells was vectorial depending on the side of stimulation, and apical exposure to EHEC or flagellin resulted in apical IL-8 release. Our results demonstrate that EHEC only induces a modest immune response in human colonic epithelium characterized by flagellin-dependent induction of hBD2 and low levels of IL-8.
Lewis, S. B., Prior, A., Ellis, S. J., Cook, V., Chan, S. S. M., Gelson, W., & Schüller, S. (2016). Flagellin induces β-defensin 2 in human colonic ex vivo infection with enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 6(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2016.00068