Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology

Transient Proteotoxicity of Bacterial Virulence Factor Pyocyanin in Renal Tubular Epithelial Cells Induces ER-Related Vacuolation and Can Be Efficiently Modulated by Iron Chelators.

PMID 27613716


Persistent infections of biofilm forming bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are common among human populations, due to the bacterial resistance to antibiotics and other adaptation strategies, including release of cytotoxic virulent factors such as pigment pyocyanin (PCN). Urinary tract infections harbor P. aeruginosa strains characterized by the highest PCN-producing capacity, yet no information is available on PCN cytotoxicity mechanism in kidney. We report here that renal tubular epithelial cell (RTEC) line NRK-52E responds to PCN treatments with paraptosis-like activity features. Specifically, PCN-treated cells experienced dilation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and an extensive development of ER-derived vacuoles after about 8 h. This process was accompanied with hyper-activation of proteotoxic stress-inducible transcription factors Nrf2, ATF6, and HSF-1. The cells could be rescued by withdrawal of PCN from the culture media before the vacuoles burst and cells die of non-programmed necrosis after about 24-30 h. The paraptosis-like activity was abrogated by co-treatment of the cells with metal-chelating antioxidants. A microscopic examination of cells co-treated with PCN and agents aiming at a variety of the cellular stress mediators and pathways have identified iron as a single most significant co-factor of the PCN cytotoxicity in the RTECs. Among biologically relevant metal ions, low micromolar Fe(2+ )specifically mediated anaerobic oxidation of glutathione by PCN, but catechol derivatives and other strong iron complexing agents could inhibit the reaction. Our data suggest that iron chelation could be considered as a supplementary treatment in the PCN-positive infections.

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Pyocyanin, from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, ≥98% (HPLC)