Transcriptome analysis of human monocytic cells infected with Burkholderia species and exploration of pentraxin-3 as part of the innate immune response against the organisms

BMC Med Genomics. 2019 Sep 6;12(1):127. doi: 10.1186/s12920-019-0575-7.


Background: Burkholderia mallei (Bm) is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen causing highly-fatal glanders in solipeds and humans. The ability of Bm to thrive intracellularly is thought to be related to exploitation of host immune response-related genes and pathways. Relatively little is known of the molecular strategies employed by this pathogen to modulate these pathways and evade intracellular killing. This manuscript seeks to fill gaps in the understanding of the interface between Bm and innate immunity by examining gene expression changes during infection of host monocytes.

Methods: The transcriptome of Bm-infected human Mono Mac-6 (MM6) monocytes was profiled on Affymetrix Human Transcriptome GeneChips 2.0. Gene expression changes in Bm-infected monocytes were compared to those of Burkholderia thailandensis (Bt)-infected monocytes and to uninfected monocytes. The resulting dataset was normalized using Robust Multichip Average and subjected to statistical analyses employing a univariate F test with a random variance model. Differentially expressed genes significant at p < 0.001 were subjected to leave-one-out cross-validation studies and 1st and 3rd nearest neighbor prediction model. Significant probe sets were used to populate human pathways in Ingenuity Pathway Analysis, with statistical significance determined by Fisher's exact test or z-score.

Results: The Pattern Recognition Receptor (PRR) pathway was represented among significantly enriched immune response-related human canonical pathways, with evidence of upregulation across both infections. Among members of this pathway, pentraxin-3 was significantly upregulated by Bm- or Bt-infected monocytes. Pentraxin-3 (PTX3) was demonstrated to bind to both Bt and Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), but not Bm. Subsequent assays did not identify a role for PTX3 in potentiating complement-mediated lysis of Bt or in enhancing phagocytosis or replication of Bt in human monocytes.

Conclusion: We report on the novel binding of PTX3 to Bt and Bp, with lack of interaction with Bm, suggesting that a possible evasive mechanism by Bm warrants further exploration. We determined that (1) PTX3 may not play a role in activating the lytic pathway of complement in different bacterial species and that (2) the opsonophagocytic properties of PTX3 should be investigated in different primary or immortalized cell lines representing host phagocytes, given lack of binding of PTX3 to MM6 monocytes.

Keywords: Burkholderia mallei; Burkholderia thailandensis; Human monocytes; Intracellular survival; Opsonophagocytosis; PTX3; Pattern recognition receptor; Transcriptome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Burkholderia / growth & development
  • Burkholderia / immunology*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate* / genetics
  • Microbial Viability
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Monocytes / microbiology*
  • Opsonin Proteins / metabolism
  • Phagocytosis
  • Protein Binding
  • Serum Amyloid P-Component / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Antibodies
  • Opsonin Proteins
  • Serum Amyloid P-Component
  • PTX3 protein
  • Complement System Proteins
  • C-Reactive Protein