The invasive phenotype of Shigella flexneri directs a distinct gene expression pattern in the human intestinal epithelial cell line Caco-2

J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 5;278(36):33878-86. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M303749200. Epub 2003 Jun 17.


Invasion of the human colonic epithelium by Shigella flexneri causes inflammation that disrupts the intestinal barrier. Invaded intestinal epithelial cells are the major source of mediators recruiting the inflammatory infiltrate. To better characterize the global response of intestinal epithelial cells to Shigella invasion, Caco-2 cells were infected by an invasive isolate of S. flexneri 5a, and their transcriptome was analyzed by Affymetrix (Santa Clara, CA) microarrays (12,000 genes) and compared with these elicited by a non-invasive Shigella mutant and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. The invasive and non-invasive strains enhanced transcription of a common pattern of 240 genes, among which genes encoding isoforms of cytochrome P-450 were induced. These genes were not induced by TNF-alpha. Conversely, both the invasive strain and TNF-alpha induced a common set of 18 genes, mainly encoding proinflammatory molecules. They also induced specific sets of genes. The transcriptome induced by the invasive strain was characterized by the induction of early genes (i.e. expressed within the first 45 min of invasion) and late genes (i.e. after 60 min of invasion) whose pattern was strongly biased toward stimulation of granulopoiesis, chemoattraction, activation, and adherence of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. When compared with a non-invasive Shigella and TNF-alpha, invasive Shigella induced a narrow transcriptome that seems to program infected epithelial cells to recruit a mucosal polymorphonuclear leukocyte to infiltrate. Dramatic increase in IL-8 gene transcription points to this chemokine as the major molecule orchestrating mucosal inflammation in shigellosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Models, Biological
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Proteome / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Shigella flexneri / pathogenicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Proteome
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System