Background: Host defense against invading pathogens is triggered by various receptors including toll-like receptors (TLRs). Activation of TLRs is a pivotal step in the initiation of innate, inflammatory, and antimicrobial defense mechanisms. Human beta-defensin 2 (HBD-2) is a cationic antimicrobial peptide secreted upon gram-negative bacterial perturbation in many cells. Stimulation of various TLRs has been shown to induce HBD-2 in oral keratinocytes, yet the underlying cellular mechanisms of this induction are poorly understood.
Principal findings: Here we demonstrate that HBD-2 induction is mediated by the Sphingosine kinase-1 (Sphk-1) and augmented by the inhibition of Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta) via the Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) dependent pathway. HBD-2 secretion was dose dependently inhibited by a pharmacological inhibitor of Sphk-1. Interestingly, inhibition of GSK-3beta by SB 216763 or by RNA interference, augmented HBD-2 induction. Overexpression of Sphk-1 with concomitant inhibition of GSK-3beta enhanced the induction of beta-defensin-2 in oral keratinocytes. Ectopic expression of constitutively active GSK-3beta (S9A) abrogated HBD-2 whereas kinase inactive GSK-3beta (R85A) induced higher amounts of HBD-2.
Conclusions/significance: These data implicate Sphk-1 in HBD-2 regulation in oral keratinocytes which also involves the activation of PI3K, AKT, GSK-3beta and ERK 1/2. Thus we reveal the intricate relationship and pathways of toll-signaling molecules regulating HBD-2 which may have therapeutic potential.