Host inflammatory response inhibits escherichia coli O157: H7 adhesion to gut epithelium through augmentation of mucin expression

Yansong Xue, Hanying Zhang, Hui Wang, Jia Hu, Min Du, Mei Jun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Escherichia coli O157:H7, a major Shiga toxin-producing pathogen, has a low infectious dose and causes serious illness in humans. The gastrointestinal tract of cattle is the primary reservoir of E. coli O157:H7, and thus, it is critical to eliminate or reduce E. coli O157:H7 gut colonization. Given that E. coli O157:H7 produces effectors that attenuate inflammatory signaling, we hypothesized that the host inflammatory response acts to perturb E. coli O157:H7 intestinal colonization. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) treatment of HT-29 cells resulted in increased expression of inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-8, and TNF-α genes and increased IL-8 protein and resulted in decreased adhesion of E. coli O157:H7. Similarly, E. coli O157:H7 adhesion to cattle colonic explants was reduced by TNF-α treatment. Irrespective of the presence of E. coli O157:H7, TNF-α enhanced activation of p65, the key mediator of NF-κB inflammatory signaling, whereas E. coli O157:H7 infection suppressed this pathway by inhibiting p65 activation in HT-29 cells. To further explore the mechanisms linking the inflammatory response to attenuated E. coli O157:H7 adhesion, mucin 2 (MUC2) expression was analyzed, considering that the intestinal mucus layer is the first defense against enteric pathogens and MUC2 is the major secretory mucin in the intestine. MUC2 expression in HT-29 cells was increased by TNF-α treatment and by E. coli O157:H7 infection. However, reducing mucin expression by blocking mitogen- activated protein kinase (MAPK) extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) and/or phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling increased E. coli O157:H7 adherence to HT-29 cells. These data suggest that the inflammatory cytokine response acts to protect host epithelial cells against E. coli O157:H7 colonization, at least in part, by promoting mucin production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1930
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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