Expression of the p60 Autolysin Enhances Nk Cell Activation and Is Required for Listeria monocytogenes Expansion in Ifn--Responsive Mice

Humann, J.; Bjordahl, R.; Andreasen, K.; Lenz, L.L.

The Journal of Immunology 178(4): 2407-2414


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.178.4.2407
Accession: 068490543

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Both peptidoglycan and muropeptides potently modulate inflammatory and innate immune responses. The secreted Listeria monocytogenes p60 autolysin digests peptidoglycan and promotes bacterial infection in vivo. Here, we report that p60 contributes to bacterial subversion of NK cell activation and innate IFN-gamma production. L. monocytogenes deficient for p60 (Deltap60) competed well for expansion in mice doubly deficient for IFNAR1 and IFN-gammaR1 or singly deficient for IFN-gammaR1, but not in wild-type, IFNAR1(-/-), or TLR2(-/-) mice. The restored competitiveness of p60-deficient bacteria suggested a specific role for p60 in bacterial subversion of IFN-gamma-mediated immune responses, since in vivo expansion of three other mutant L. monocytogenes strains (DeltaActA, DeltaNamA, and DeltaPlcB) was not complemented in IFN-gammaR1(-/-) mice. Bacterial expression of p60 was not required to induce socs1, socs3, and il10 expression in infected mouse bone marrow macrophages but did correlate with enhanced production of IL-6, IL-12p70, and most strikingly IFN-gamma. The primary source of p60-dependent innate IFN-gamma was NK cells, whereas bacterial p60 expression did not significantly alter innate IFN-gamma production by T cells. The mechanism for p60-dependent NK cell stimulation was also indirect, given that treatment with purified p60 protein failed to directly activate NK cells for IFN-gamma production. These data suggest that p60 may act on infected cells to indirectly enhance NK cell activation and increase innate IFN-gamma production, which presumably promotes early bacterial expansion through its immunoregulatory effects on bystander cells. Thus, the simultaneous induction of IFN-gamma production and factors that inhibit IFN-gamma signaling may be a common strategy for misdirection of early antibacterial immunity.