MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 contributes to Clostridium difficile-associated inflammation

Infection and Immunity
Linda D BoboDavid B Haslam


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) results in toxin-induced epithelial injury and marked intestinal inflammation. Fecal markers of intestinal inflammation correlate with CDI disease severity, but regulation of the inflammatory response is poorly understood. Previous studies demonstrated that C. difficile toxin TcdA activates p38 kinase in tissue culture cells and mouse ilium, resulting in interleukin-8 (IL-8) release. Here, we investigated the role of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-activated protein kinase (MK2 kinase, pMK2), a key mediator of p38-dependent inflammation, in CDI. Exposure of cultured intestinal epithelial cells to the C. difficile toxins TcdA and TcdB resulted in p38-dependent MK2 activation. Toxin-induced IL-8 and GROα release required MK2 activity. We found that p38 and MK2 are activated in response to other actin-disrupting agents, suggesting that toxin-induced cytoskeleton disruption is the trigger for kinase-dependent cytokine response. Phosphorylated MK2 was detected in the intestines of C. difficile-infected hamsters and mice, demonstrating for the first time that the pathway is activated in infected animals. Furthermore, we found that elevated pMK2 correlated with the presence ...Continue Reading


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