Mechanism of inhibition of Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli SubAB cytotoxicity by steroids and diacylglycerol analogues

Cell Death Discov. 2018 Feb 14;4:22. doi: 10.1038/s41420-017-0007-4. eCollection 2018 Dec.


Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) are responsible for a worldwide foodborne disease, which is characterized by severe bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB) is a novel AB5 toxin, which is produced by Locus for Enterocyte Effacement (LEE)-negative STEC. Cleavage of the BiP protein by SubAB induces endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, followed by induction of cytotoxicity in vitro or lethal severe hemorrhagic inflammation in mice. Here we found that steroids and diacylglycerol (DAG) analogues (e.g., bryostatin 1, Ingenol-3-angelate) inhibited SubAB cytotoxicity. In addition, steroid-induced Bcl-xL expression was a key step in the inhibition of SubAB cytotoxicity. Bcl-xL knockdown increased SubAB-induced apoptosis in steroid-treated HeLa cells, whereas SubAB-induced cytotoxicity was suppressed in Bcl-xL overexpressing cells. In contrast, DAG analogues suppressed SubAB activity independent of Bcl-xL expression at early time points. Addition of Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) with SubAB to cells enhanced cytotoxicity even in the presence of steroids. In contrast, DAG analogues suppressed cytotoxicity seen in the presence of both toxins. Here, we show the mechanism by which steroids and DAG analogues protect cells against SubAB toxin produced by LEE-negative STEC.