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Interaction of Staphylococcus aureus and Host Cells upon Infection of Bronchial Epithelium during Different Stages of Regeneration

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posted on 08.07.2020, 18:34 by Laura M. Palma Medina, Ann-Kristin Becker, Stephan Michalik, Kristin Surmann, Petra Hildebrandt, Manuela Gesell Salazar, Solomon A. Mekonnen, Lars Kaderali, Uwe Völker, Jan Maarten van Dijl
The primary barrier that protects our lungs against infection by pathogens is a tightly sealed layer of epithelial cells. When the integrity of this barrier is disrupted as a consequence of chronic pulmonary diseases or viral insults, bacterial pathogens will gain access to underlying tissues. A major pathogen that can take advantage of such conditions is Staphylococcus aureus, thereby causing severe pneumonia. In this study, we investigated how S. aureus responds to different conditions of the human epithelium, especially nonpolarization and fibrogenesis during regeneration using an in vitro infection model. The infective process was monitored by quantification of the epithelial cell and bacterial populations, fluorescence microscopy, and mass spectrometry. The results uncover differences in bacterial internalization and population dynamics that correlate with the outcome of infection. Protein profiling reveals that, irrespective of the polarization state of the epithelial cells, the invading bacteria mount similar responses to adapt to the intracellular milieu. Remarkably, a bacterial adaptation that was associated with the regeneration state of the epithelial cells concerned the early upregulation of proteins controlled by the redox-responsive regulator Rex when bacteria were confronted with a polarized cell layer. This is indicative of the modulation of the bacterial cytoplasmic redox state to maintain homeostasis early during infection even before internalization. Our present observations provide a deeper insight into how S. aureus can take advantage of a breached epithelial barrier and show that infected epithelial cells have limited ability to respond adequately to staphylococcal insults.