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Crossing of the epithelial and endothelial barriers by the opportunistic pathogen P. aeruginosa

Published on 29 October 2015


Thesis presented 29 October​ 2015

Abstract:
P. aeruginosa is one of the main pathogens responsible for nosocomial infections. Acute infections by this bacterium are associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, especially when bacteria disseminate in the bloodstream. In most situations, blood infection is the consequence of the crossing of two essential tissue barriers by P. aeruginosa: the epithelium for the mucosa and the endothelium for the blood vessel. Although these events are critical steps for systemic spread of bacteria, the mechanisms involved in the penetration of the pathogen in the organism are poorly understood. For the endothelium, we demonstrate that P. aeruginosa induces the cleavage of VE-cadherin, a protein of endothelial junctions, by the action of LasB, a protease secreted by the bacteria. VE-cadherin cleavage induces a loss of integrity of the endothelium, allowing bacterial access to the cellular basolateral domain. Once in this location, the Type 3 secretion system may inject toxins into the cell, triggering a major intoxication process. Crossing of the epithelial barrier involves a very different mechanism. Using real-time confocal microscopy, we show that P. aeruginosa uses a paracellular route to transmigrate, exploiting junctional weaknesses at sites of cell division and cell death. This transmigration process requires the coordinate actions of Type IV pili, the flagellum and toxins of the Type 3 secretion system.

Keywords:
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, endothelium, VE-cadherin, intercellular junctions, toxin, SST3, nosocomial infections, epithelial and endothelial barriers, host-pathogen interaction, virulence factors, videomicroscopy

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