Time-Course Transcriptome Analysis of Lungs From Mice Infected With Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae via Aerosolized Intratracheal Inoculation

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2022 Apr 27;12:833080. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2022.833080. eCollection 2022.


Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae (hvKp) can cause life-threatening community-acquired infections among healthy young individuals and is thus of concern for global dissemination. In this study, a mouse model of acute primary hvKp pneumonia was established via aerosolized intratracheal (i.t.) inoculation, laying the foundation for conducting extensive studies related to hvKp. Subsequently, a time-course transcriptional profile was created of the lungs from the mouse model at 0, 12, 24, 48 and 60 hours post-infection (hpi) using RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq). RNA-Seq data were analyzed with the use of Mfuzz time clustering, weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) and Immune Cell Abundance Identifier for mouse (ImmuCellAI-mouse). A gradual change in the transcriptional profile of the lungs was observed that reflected expected disease progression. At 12 hpi, genes related to acute phase inflammatory response increased in expression and lipid metabolism appeared to have a pro-inflammatory effect. At 24 hpi, exacerbation of inflammation was observed and active IFN-γ suggested that signaling promoted activation and recruitment of macrophages occurred. Genes related to maintaining the structural integrity of lung tissues showed a sustained decrease in expression after infection and the decrease was especially marked at 48 hpi. TNF, IL-17, MAPK and NF-kB signaling pathways may play key roles in the immunopathogenesis mechanism at all stages of infection. Natural killer (NK) cells consistently decreased in abundance after infection, which has rarely been reported in hvKp infection and could provide a new target for treatment. Genes Saa1 and Slpi were significantly upregulated during infection. Both Saa1, which is associated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) that elicits host inflammatory response, and Slpi, which encodes an antimicrobial protein, have not previously been reported in hvKp infections and could be important targets for subsequent studies. To t our knowledge, this paper represents the first study to investigate the pulmonary transcriptional response to hvKp infection. The results provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of hvKp pulmonary infection that can contribute to the development of therapies to reduce hvKp pneumonia.

Keywords: hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae; inflammation; lung; molecular pathology; time-course transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Klebsiella Infections*
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / genetics
  • Lung
  • Mice
  • Pneumonia*