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Science 329 (5996): 1197-1201

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Human-Restricted Bacterial Pathogens Block Shedding of Epithelial Cells by Stimulating Integrin Activation

Petra Muenzner,1 Verena Bachmann,1 Wolfgang Zimmermann,2 Jochen Hentschel,1,3 Christof R. Hauck1,4,*

Abstract: Colonization of mucosal surfaces is the key initial step in most bacterial infections. One mechanism protecting the mucosa is the rapid shedding of epithelial cells, also termed exfoliation, but it is unclear how pathogens counteract this process. We found that carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)–binding bacteria colonized the urogenital tract of CEA transgenic mice, but not of wild-type mice, by suppressing exfoliation of mucosal cells. CEA binding triggered de novo expression of the transforming growth factor receptor CD105, changing focal adhesion composition and activating β1 integrins. This manipulation of integrin inside-out signaling promotes efficient mucosal colonization and represents a potential target to prevent or cure bacterial infections.

1 Lehrstuhl Zellbiologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.
2 Tumor Immunology Laboratory, LIFE Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 81377 München, Germany.
3 EM Service, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.
4 Konstanz Research School Chemical Biology, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: christof.hauck{at}uni-konstanz.de


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