The Journal of experimental medicine

Bordetella evades the host immune system by inducing IL-10 through a type III effector, BopN.

PMID 20008527


The inflammatory response is one of several host alert mechanisms that recruit neutrophils from the circulation to the area of infection. We demonstrate that Bordetella, a bacterial pathogen, exploits an antiinflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10 (IL-10), to evade the host immune system. We identified a Bordetella effector, BopN, that is translocated into the host cell via the type III secretion system, where it induces enhanced production of IL-10. Interestingly, the BopN effector translocates itself into the nucleus and is involved in the down-regulation of mitogen-activated protein kinases. Using pharmacological blockade, we demonstrated that BopN-induced IL-10 production is mediated, at least in part, by its ability to block the extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway. We also showed that BopN blocks nuclear translocation of nuclear factor kappaB p65 (NF-kappaBp65) but, in contrast, promotes nuclear translocation of NF-kappaBp50. A BopN-deficient strain was unable to induce IL-10 production in mice, resulting in the elimination of bacteria via neutrophil infiltration into the pulmonary alveoli. Furthermore, IL-10-deficient mice effectively eliminated wild-type as well as BopN mutant bacteria. Thus, Bordetella exploits BopN as a stealth strategy to shut off the host inflammatory reaction. These results explain the ability of Bordetella species to avoid induction of the inflammatory response.