Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Immunology and Microbiology


Microbiology and Physiological Systems

First Thesis Advisor

Beth McCormick, PhD


Bacterial Proteins, Caspase 3, Epithelial Cells, Inflammation, Membrane Proteins, Microfilament Proteins, Neutrophils, Salmonella Infections, Salmonella enterica, Salmonella typhimurium


Dissertations, UMMS; Bacterial Proteins; Caspase 3; Epithelial Cells; Inflammation; Membrane Proteins; Microfilament Proteins; Neutrophils; Salmonella Infections; Salmonella enterica; Salmonella typhimurium


Salmonella enterica subtype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) is one of many non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica strains responsible for over one million cases of salmonellosis in the United States each year. These Salmonella strains are also a leading cause of diarrheal disease in developing countries. Nontyphoidal salmonellosis induces gastrointestinal distress that is characterized histopathologically by an influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), the non-specific effects of which lead to tissue damage and contribute to diarrhea.

Prior studies from our lab have demonstrated that the type III secreted bacterial effector SipA is a key regulator of PMN influx during S. Typhimurium infection and that its activity requires processing by caspase-3. Although we established caspase-3 activity is required for the activation of inflammatory pathways during S. Typhimurium infection, the mechanisms by which caspase-3 is activated remain incompletely understood. Most challenging is the fact that SipA is responsible for activating caspase-3, which begs the question of how SipA can activate an enzyme it requires for its own activity.

In the present study, we describe our findings that the eukaryotic tetraspanning membrane protein PERP is required for the S. Typhimuriuminduced influx of PMNs. We further show that S. Typhimurium infection induces PERP accumulation at the apical surface of polarized colonic epithelial cells, and that this accumulation requires SipA. Strikingly, PERP accumulation occurs in the absence of caspase-3 processing of SipA, which is the first time we have shown SipA mediates a cellular event without first requiring caspase-3 processing. Previous work demonstrates that PERP mediates the activation of caspase-3, and we find that PERP is required for Salmonella-induced caspase-3 activation.

Our combined data support a model in which SipA triggers caspase-3 activation via its cellular modulation of PERP. Since SipA can set this pathway in motion without being cleaved by caspase-3, we propose that PERP-mediated caspase-3 activation is required for the activation of SipA, and thus is a key step in the inflammatory response to S. Typhimurium infection. Our findings further our understanding of how SipA induces inflammation during S. Typhimurium infection, and also provide additional insight into how type III secreted effectors manipulate host cells.



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