Student Author(s)

YuShuan Lai

Academic Program

Not applicable

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems

Publication Date


Document Type





A member of the attaching and effacing (AE) family of pathogens, enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) induces dramatic changes to the intestinal cell cytoskeleton, including effacement of microvilli. Effacement by the related pathogen enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) requires the activity of the Ca(+2)-dependent host protease, calpain, which participates in a variety of cellular processes, including cell adhesion and motility. We found that EHEC infection results in an increase in epithelial (CaCo-2a) cell calpain activity and that EHEC-induced microvillar effacement was blocked by ectopic expression of calpastatin, an endogenous calpain inhibitor, or by pretreatment of intestinal cells with a cell-penetrating version of calpastatin. In addition, ezrin, a known calpain substrate that links the plasma membrane to axial actin filaments in microvilli, was cleaved in a calpain-dependent manner during EHEC infection and lost from its normal locale within microvilli. Calpain may be a central conduit through which EHEC and other AE pathogens induce enterocyte cytoskeletal remodeling and exert their pathogenic effects.


CaCo-2, calpastat, calpastatin, ezrin, attaching and effacing lesion, microvilli

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2011 Lai, Riley, Cai, Leong and Herman. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

DOI of Published Version



Front Microbiol. 2011 Nov 8;2:222. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2011.00222. eCollection 2011. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in microbiology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


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Microbiology Commons