Flagellin acting via TLR5 is the major activator of key signaling pathways leading to NF-κB and proinflammatory gene program activation in intestinal epithelial cells

Thomas Tallant, Amitabha Deb, Niladri Kar, Joseph Lupica, Michael J. De Veer, Joseph A. DiDonato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Infection of intestinal epithelial cells by pathogenic Salmonella leads to activation of signaling cascades that ultimately initiate the proinflammatory gene program. The transcription factor NF-κB is a key regulator/activator of this gene program and is potently activated. We explored the mechanism by which Salmonella activates NF-κB during infection of cultured intestinal epithelial cells and found that flagellin produced by the bacteria and contained on them leads to NF-κB activation in all the cells; invasion of cells by the bacteria is not required to activate NF-κB. Results: Purified flagellin activated the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK), stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) and Ikappa B kinase (IKK) signaling pathways that lead to expression of the proinflammatory gene program in a temporal fashion nearly identical to that of infection of intestinal epithelial cells by Salmonella. Flagellin expression was required for Salmonella invasion of host cells and it activated NF-κB via toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5). Surprisingly, a number of cell lines found to be unresponsive to flagellin express TLR5 and expression of exogenous TLR5 in these cells induces NF-κB activity in response to flagellin challenge although not robustly. Conversely, overexpression of dominant-negative TLR5 alleles only partially blocks NF-κB activation by flagellin. These observations are consistent with the possibility of either a very stable TLR5 signaling complex, the existence of a low abundance flagellin co-receptor or required adapter, or both. Conclusion: These collective results provide the evidence that flagellin acts as the main determinant of Salmonella mediated NF-κB and proinflammatory signaling and gene activation by this flagellated pathogen. In addition, expression of the fli C gene appears to play an important role in the proper functioning of the TTSS since mutants that fail to express fli C are defective in expressing a subset of Sip proteins and fail to invade host cells. Flagellin added in trans cannot restore the ability of the fli C mutant bacteria to invade intestinal epithelial cells. Lastly, TLR5 expression in weak and non-responding cells indicates that additional factors may be required for efficient signal propagation in response to flagellin recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages24
JournalBMC Microbiology
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

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