PLoS Pathogens (2016-10-01)

The L-Arginine Transporter Solute Carrier Family 7 Member 2 Mediates the Immunopathogenesis of Attaching and Effacing Bacteria.

  • Kshipra Singh,
  • Nicole T Al-Greene,
  • Thomas G Verriere,
  • Lori A Coburn,
  • Mohammad Asim,
  • Daniel P Barry,
  • Margaret M Allaman,
  • Dana M Hardbower,
  • Alberto G Delgado,
  • M Blanca Piazuelo,
  • Bruce A Vallance,
  • Alain P Gobert,
  • Keith T Wilson

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 10
p. e1005984


Read online

Solute carrier family 7 member 2 (SLC7A2) is an inducible transporter of the semi-essential amino acid L-arginine (L-Arg), which has been implicated in immune responses to pathogens. We assessed the role of SLC7A2 in murine infection with Citrobacter rodentium, an attaching and effacing enteric pathogen that causes colitis. Induction of SLC7A2 was upregulated in colitis tissues, and localized predominantly to colonic epithelial cells. Compared to wild-type mice, Slc7a2-/-mice infected with C. rodentium had improved survival and decreased weight loss, colon weight, and histologic injury; this was associated with decreased colonic macrophages, dendritic cells, granulocytes, and Th1 and Th17 cells. In infected Slc7a2-/-mice, there were decreased levels of the proinflammatory cytokines G-CSF, TNF-α, IL-1α, IL-1β, and the chemokines CXCL1, CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CXCL2, and CCL5. In bone marrow chimeras, the recipient genotype drove the colitis phenotype, indicative of the importance of epithelial, rather than myeloid SLC7A2. Mice lacking Slc7a2 exhibited reduced adherence of C. rodentium to the colonic epithelium and decreased expression of Talin-1, a focal adhesion protein involved in the attachment of the bacterium. The importance of SLC7A2 and Talin-1 in the intimate attachment of C. rodentium and induction of inflammatory response was confirmed in vitro, using conditionally-immortalized young adult mouse colon (YAMC) cells with shRNA knockdown of Slc7a2 or Tln1. Inhibition of L-Arg uptake with the competitive inhibitor, L-lysine (L-Lys), also prevented attachment of C. rodentium and chemokine expression. L-Lys and siRNA knockdown confirmed the role of L-Arg and SLC7A2 in human Caco-2 cells co-cultured with enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. Overexpression of SLC7A2 in human embryonic kidney cells increased bacterial adherence and chemokine expression. Taken together, our data indicate that C. rodentium enhances its own pathogenicity by inducing the expression of SLC7A2 to favor its attachment to the epithelium and thus create its ecological niche.