Apoptotic Signaling Clears Engineered Salmonella in an Organ-Specific Manner

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Pyroptosis and apoptosis are two forms of regulated cell death that can defend against intracellular infection. Although pyroptosis and apoptosis have distinct signaling pathways, when a cell fails to complete pyroptosis, backup pathways will initiate apoptosis. Here, we investigated the utility of apoptosis compared to pyroptosis in defense against an intracellular bacterial infection. We previously engineered Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium to persistently express flagellin, and thereby activate NLRC4 during systemic infection in mice. The resulting pyroptosis clears this flagellin-engineered strain. We now show that infection of caspase-1 or gasdermin D deficient macrophages by this flagellin-engineered S. Typhimurium induces apoptosis in vitro. Additionally, we also now engineer S. Typhimurium to translocate the pro-apoptotic BH3 domain of BID, which also triggers apoptosis in macrophages in vitro. In both engineered strains, apoptosis occurred somewhat slower than pyroptosis. During mouse infection, the apoptotic pathway successfully cleared these engineered S. Typhimurium from the intestinal niche, but failed to clear the bacteria from the myeloid niche in the spleen or lymph nodes. In contrast, the pyroptotic pathway was beneficial in defense of both niches. In order to clear an infection, distinct cell types may have specific tasks that they must complete before they die. In some cells, either apoptotic or pyroptotic signaling may initiate the same tasks, whereas in other cell types these modes of cell death may lead to different tasks that may not be identical in defense against infection. We recently suggested that such diverse tasks can be considered as different cellular “bucket lists” to be accomplished before a cell dies. As demonstrated here, engineering pathogens is a useful method for discovering new details of microbial pathogenesis and host defense. However, engineering can result in off-target effects. We engineer S. Typhimurium to overexpress the secretion signal of the type 3 secretion system effector SspH1 fused with domains of other proteins as cargo. Such engineering had no virulence cost to the bacteria for the first 48 hours post infection in mice. However, after 48 hours the engineered bacteria manifest an attenuation that correlates with the quantity of the SspH1 translocation signal expressed. In IFNg-deficient mice this attenuation was weakened. Conversely, the attenuation was accelerated in the context of a pre-existing infection. We speculate that inflammatory signals change aspects of the target cell’s physiology that make host cells less permissive to S. Typhimurium infection. This increased degree of difficulty requires the bacteria to utilize its T3SS at peak efficiency, which can be disrupted by engineered effectors.






Abele, Taylor Jane (2023). Apoptotic Signaling Clears Engineered Salmonella in an Organ-Specific Manner. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30274.


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