Infection and immunity

Listeriolysin O-dependent bacterial entry into the cytoplasm is required for calpain activation and interleukin-1 alpha secretion in macrophages infected with Listeria monocytogenes.

PMID 20194588


Listeriolysin O (LLO), an hly-encoded cytolysin of Listeria monocytogenes, plays an essential role in the entry of L. monocytogenes into the host cell cytoplasm. L. monocytogenes-infected macrophages produce various proinflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), that contribute to the host immune response. In this study, we have examined IL-1 alpha production in macrophages infected with wild-type L. monocytogenes or a nonescaping mutant strain deficient for LLO (Delta hly). Expression of IL-1 alpha mRNA and accumulation of pro-IL-1 alpha in the cytoplasm were induced by both strains. In contrast, the secretion of the mature form of IL-1 alpha from infected macrophages was observed in infection with wild-type L. monocytogenes but not with the Delta hly mutant. A recovery of the ability to induce IL-1 alpha secretion was shown in a mutant strain complemented with the hly gene. The Toll-like receptor (TLR)/MyD88 signaling pathway was exclusively required for the expression of pro-IL-1 alpha, independently of LLO-mediated cytoplasmic entry of L. monocytogenes. The LLO-dependent secretion of mature IL-1 alpha was abolished by addition of calcium chelators, and only LLO-producing L. monocytogenes strains were able to induce elevation of the intracellular calcium level in infected macrophages. A calcium-dependent protease, calpain, was implicated in the maturation and secretion of IL-1 alpha induced by LLO-producing L. monocytogenes strains based on the effect of calpain inhibitor. Functional activation of calpain was detected in macrophages infected with LLO-producing L. monocytogenes strains but not with a mutant strain lacking LLO. These results clearly indicated that LLO-mediated cytoplasmic entry of bacteria could induce the activation of intracellular calcium signaling, which is essential for maturation and secretion of IL-1 alpha in macrophages during L. monocytogenes infection through activation of a calcium-dependent calpain protease. In addition, recombinant LLO, when added to macrophages infected with the Delta hly strain, could induce calcium influx and IL-1 alpha secretion at doses exhibiting cytolytic activity, suggesting that LLO produced by intracellular L. monocytogenes may be implicated in induction of calcium influx through pore formation.