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Open Access Research article

Molecular characterization of Legionella pneumophila-induced interleukin-8 expression in T cells

Reika Takamatsu1, Hiromitsu Teruya12, Eriko Takeshima12, Chie Ishikawa13, Kunihiro Matsumoto4, Naofumi Mukaida5, Jian-Dong Li6, Klaus Heuner7, Futoshi Higa2, Jiro Fujita2 and Naoki Mori1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Molecular Virology and Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan

2 Division of Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan

3 Transdisciplinary Research Organization for Subtropics and Island Studies, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan

4 Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan

5 Division of Molecular Bioregulation, Cancer Research Institute, Kanazawa University, 13-1 Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-0934, Japan

6 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, New York 14642, USA

7 Project group 26 "Nosocomial Infections of the Elderly", Robert Koch-Institut, 20 Nordufer, Berlin 13353, Germany

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:1  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-1

Published: 5 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Legionella pneumophila is the causative agent of human Legionnaire's disease. During infection, the bacterium invades macrophages and lung epithelial cells, and replicates intracellularly. However, little is known about its interaction with T cells. We investigated the ability of L. pneumophila to infect and stimulate the production of interleukin-8 (IL-8) in T cells. The objective of this study was to assess whether L. pneumophila interferes with the immune system by interacting and infecting T cells.

Results

Wild-type L. pneumophila and flagellin-deficient Legionella, but not L. pneumophila lacking a functional type IV secretion system Dot/Icm, replicated in T cells. On the other hand, wild-type L. pneumophila and Dot/Icm-deficient Legionella, but not flagellin-deficient Legionella or heat-killed Legionella induced IL-8 expression. L. pneumophila activated an IL-8 promoter through the NF-κB and AP-1 binding regions. Wild-type L. pneumophila but not flagellin-deficient Legionella activated NF-κB, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and transforming growth factor β-associated kinase 1 (TAK1). Transfection of dominant negative mutants of IκBα, IκB kinase, NF-κB-inducing kinase, TAK1, MyD88, and p38 MAPK inhibited L. pneumophila-induced IL-8 activation. Inhibitors of NF-κB, p38 MAPK, and JNK blocked L. pneumophila-induced IL-8 expression. In addition, c-Jun, JunD, cyclic AMP response element binding protein, and activating transcription factor 1, which are substrates of p38 MAPK and JNK, bound to the AP-1 site of the IL-8 promoter.

Conclusions

Taken together, L. pneumophila induced a flagellin-dependent activation of TAK1, p38 MAPK, and JNK, as well as NF-κB and AP-1, which resulted in IL-8 production in human T cells, presumably contributing to the immune response in Legionnaire's disease.