Mechanism of fibroblast inflammatory responses to Pseudomonas aeruginosa elastase

Microbiology (Reading). 2014 Mar;160(Pt 3):547-555. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.075325-0. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


Receptor tyrosine kinases, including the epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), are able to activate the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) via several adaptor proteins and protein kinases such as Raf. EGFR can be activated by a variety of extracellular stimuli including neutrophil elastase, but we are aware of no report as to whether Pseudomonas aeruginosa produced elastase (PE) could elicit such signalling through EGFR activation. We sought to test the inference that PE modulates inflammatory responses in human lung fibroblasts and that the process occurs by activation of the EGFR/MAPK pathways. We utilized IL-8 cytokine expression as a pathway-specific end point measure of the fibroblast inflammatory response to PE. Western blot analysis was performed to detect phosphorylation of EGFR and signal transduction intermediates. Northern blot, real-time PCR, and ELISA methods were utilized to determine cytokine gene expression levels. We found that PE induces phosphorylation of the EGFR and the extracellular signal-regulated proteins (ERK1/2) of the MAPK pathway, and nuclear translocation of NF-κB. Furthermore, enzymically active PE enhances IL-8 mRNA and protein secretion. Pretreatment of the cells with specific inhibitors of EGFR, MAPK kinase and NF-κB markedly attenuated the PE-induced signal proteins phosphorylation and IL-8 gene expression and protein secretion. Collectively, the data show that PE produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa can modulate lung inflammation by exploiting the EGFR/ERK signalling cascades and enhancing IL-8 production in the lungs via NF-κB activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-8 / genetics
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Transport
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-8
  • NF-kappa B
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • pseudolysin, Pseudomonas aeruginosa