Aberrant macrophage activation during intracellular infection generates immunopathologies that can cause severe human morbidity. A better understanding of immune subversion strategies and macrophage phenotypic and functional responses is necessary to design host-directed intervention strategies. Here, we uncover a fine-tuned transcriptional response that is induced in primary and lesional macrophages infected by the parasite Leishmania amazonensis and dampens NF-κB and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Subversion is amastigote-specific and characterized by a decreased expression of activating and increased expression of de-activating components of these pro-inflammatory pathways, thus revealing a regulatory dichotomy that abrogates the anti-microbial response. Changes in transcript abundance correlate with histone H3K9/14 hypoacetylation and H3K4 hypo-trimethylation in infected primary and lesional macrophages at promoters of NF-κB-related, pro-inflammatory genes. Our results reveal a Leishmania immune subversion strategy targeting host cell epigenetic regulation to establish conditions beneficial for parasite survival and open avenues for host-directed, anti-microbial drug discovery.
Keywords: H3 acetylation; H3 methylation; Leishmania amazonensis; NF-κB; NLRP3 inflammasome; amastigotes; epigenetics; histone; lesional macrophage.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.