Histone H3K14 and H4K8 hyperacetylation is associated with Escherichia coli-induced mastitis in mice

Epigenetics. 2012 May;7(5):492-501. doi: 10.4161/epi.19742. Epub 2012 May 1.


Mastitis is a multietiological complex disease, defined as inflammation of parenchyma of mammary glands. Bacterial infection is the predominant cause of mastitis, though fungal, viral and mycoplasma infections also have been reported. Based on the severity of the disease, mastitis can be classified into subclinical, clinical and chronic forms. Bacterial pathogens from fresh cow milk were isolated and classified by standard microbiological tests and multiplex PCR. Epidemiological studies have shown that Escherichia coli is the second largest mastitis pathogen after Staphylococcus aureus in India. Based on Enterobacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus (ERIC)-PCR profile and presence of virulence genes, a field isolate of E. coli was used for intramammary inoculation in lactating mice. Histopathological examination of hematoxylin and eosin stained sections showed severe infiltration of polymorphonuclear neutrophils, mononuclear inflammatory cells in the alveolar lumen and also in interstitial space, and necrosis of alveolar epithelial cells after 24 h. Western blot and immunohistochemical analysis of mice mammary tissues showed significant hyperacetylation at histone H3K14 residue of both mammary epithelial cells and migrated inflammatory cells. Quantitative real-time PCR and genome-wide gene expression profile in E. coli infected mice mammary tissue revealed differential expression of genes related to inflammation, immunity, antimicrobial peptide expression, acute phase response and oxidative stress response. Expression of milk proteins was also suppressed. ChIP assay from paraffinized tissues showed selective enrichment of acetylated histone H3K14 and H4K8 at the promoters of overexpressed genes. These data suggest that E. coli infection in mice mammary tissue leads to histone hyperacetylation at the promoter of immune genes, which is a pre-requisite for the expression of inflammatory genes in order to mount a drastic immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / immunology*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / microbiology*
  • Mastitis / immunology
  • Mastitis / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Milk / immunology
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk / microbiology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / immunology
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Histones
  • Virulence Factors