To colonize the human intestine, these pathogens must overcome innate immune defenses such as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Bacterial pathogens have evolved various mechanisms to resist killing by AMPs, including proteolytic degradation of AMPs. To examine the ability of the EHEC and EPEC OmpT outer membrane (OM) proteases to degrade α-helical AMPs, ompT deletion mutants were generated.
Determination of MICs of various AMPs revealed that both mutant strains are more susceptible than their wild-type counterparts to α-helical AMPs, although to different extents.
Time course assays monitoring the degradation of LL-37 and C18G showed that EHEC cells degraded both AMPs faster than EPEC cells in an OmpT-dependent manner.
Mass spectrometry analyses of proteolytic fragments showed that EHEC OmpT cleaves LL-37 at dibasic sites.
The superior protection provided by EHEC OmpT compared to EPEC OmpT against α-helical AMPs was due to higher expression of the ompT gene and, in turn, higher levels of the OmpT protein in EHEC. Fusion of the EPEC ompT promoter to the EHEC ompT open reading frame resulted in decreased OmpT expression, indicating that transcriptional regulation of ompT is different in EHEC and EPEC. We hypothesize that the different contributions of EHEC and EPEC OmpT to the degradation and inactivation of LL-37 may be due to their adaptation to their respective niches within the host, the colon and small intestine, respectively, where the environmental cues and abundance of AMPs are different.
JournalInfection and immunity
Infect Immun (1098-5522)
Infection and immunity
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Infect Immun. 2012 Feb;80(2):483-92
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