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  • CXCL14 displays antimicrobial activity against respiratory tract bacteria and contributes to clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae pulmonary infection.

CXCL14 displays antimicrobial activity against respiratory tract bacteria and contributes to clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae pulmonary infection.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) (2015-05-13)
Chen Dai, Paola Basilico, Tiziana Patrizia Cremona, Paul Collins, Bernhard Moser, Charaf Benarafa, Marlene Wolf
ABSTRACT

CXCL14 is a chemokine with an atypical, yet highly conserved, primary structure characterized by a short N terminus and high sequence identity between human and mouse. Although it induces chemotaxis of monocytic cells at high concentrations, its physiological role in leukocyte trafficking remains elusive. In contrast, several studies have demonstrated that CXCL14 is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptide that is expressed abundantly and constitutively in epithelial tissues. In this study, we further explored the antimicrobial properties of CXCL14 against respiratory pathogens in vitro and in vivo. We found that CXCL14 potently killed Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus mitis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae in a dose-dependent manner in part through membrane depolarization and rupture. By performing structure-activity studies, we found that the activity against Gram-negative bacteria was largely associated with the N-terminal peptide CXCL141-13. Interestingly, the central part of the molecule representing the β-sheet also maintained ∼62% killing activity and was sufficient to induce chemotaxis of THP-1 cells. The C-terminal α-helix of CXCL14 had neither antimicrobial nor chemotactic effect. To investigate a physiological function for CXCL14 in innate immunity in vivo, we infected CXCL14-deficient mice with lung pathogens and we found that CXCL14 contributed to enhanced clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae, but not Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Our comprehensive studies reflect the complex bactericidal mechanisms of CXCL14, and we propose that different structural features are relevant for the killing of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. Taken together, our studies show that evolutionary-conserved features of CXCL14 are important for constitutive antimicrobial defenses against pneumonia.

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