Salmonella Typhimurium specifically targets antigen-sampling microfold (M) cells to translocate across the gut epithelium. Although M cells represent a small proportion of the specialized follicular-associated epithelium (FAE) overlying mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues, their density increases during Salmonella infection, but the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Using in vitro and in vivo infection models, we demonstrate that the S. Typhimurium type III effector protein SopB induces an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of FAE enterocytes into M cells. This cellular transdifferentiation is a result of SopB-dependent activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling leading to induction of both receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and its receptor RANK. The autocrine activation of RelB-expressing FAE enterocytes by RANKL/RANK induces the EMT-regulating transcription factor Slug that marks epithelial transdifferentiation into M cells. Thus, via the activity of a single secreted effector, S. Typhimurium transforms primed epithelial cells into M cells to promote host colonization and invasion. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
Tahoun, A., Mahajan, S., Paxton, E., Malterer, G., Donaldson, D. S., Wang, D., … Mahajan, A. (2012). Salmonella transforms follicle-associated epithelial cells into M cells to promote intestinal invasion. Cell Host and Microbe, 12(5), 645–656. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2012.10.009