H.J. Bootsma, M. Egmont-Petersen, P.W.M. Hermans. "Transcriptional response to pneumococcal adherence," Infection and Immunity, Vol. 75, No. 11, pp. 5489-5499, 2007.
Infection of the human host by Streptococcus pneumoniae begins with colonization of the nasopharynx, which is mediated by adherence of bacteria to respiratory epithelium. Several studies have indicated an important role for the pneumococcal capsule in this process. Here, we used microarrays to characterize the in vitro transcriptional response of human nasopharyngeal epithelial Detroit 562 cells to adherence of serotype 2-encapsulated strain D39, serotype 19F-encapsulated strain G54, serotype 4-encapsulated strain TIGR4, and their nonencapsulated derivatives (delta-cps). In total, 322 genes were found to be upregulated in response to adherent pneumococci. Twenty-two genes were commonly induced, including those encoding several cytokines (e.g., IL-1Beta, IL-6), chemokines (e.g., IL-8, CXCL1/2), and transcriptional regulators (e.g., FOS), consistent with an innate immune response mediated by Toll-like receptor signaling. Interestingly, 85% of genes were induced specifically by one or more encapsulated strains, suggestive of a capsule-dependent response, although purified type 2 polysaccharides alone had no effect. Over a third of these loci encoded products predicted to be involved in transcriptional regulation and signal transduction, in particular the MAPK signaling pathways. Real-time PCR of a subset of ten genes confirmed microarray data and showed a time-dependent upregulation of especially innate immunity genes. Downregulation of epithelial genes was most pronounced upon adherent D39Deltacps, as 68% of the 161 genes identified was only repressed using this nonencapsulated strain. In conclusion, we identified a subset of host genes specifically induced by encapsulated strains during in vitro adherence, underlining the complexity of interactions occurring during the initial stages of pneumococcal infection.