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Quorum sensing in the probiotic bacterium Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (Mutaflor) – evidence that furanosyl borate diester (AI-2) is influencing the cytokine expression in the DSS colitis mouse model

Christoph A Jacobi14*, Stefanie Grundler1, Chih-Jen Hsieh1, Julia Stefanie Frick2, Patrick Adam3, Georg Lamprecht1, Ingo B Autenrieth2, Michael Gregor1 and Peter Malfertheiner4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine I, University clinic Tübingen, Otfried Müllerstr. 10, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

2 Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University clinic Tübingen, Otfried Müllerstr. 10, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

3 Institute for Pathology and Neuropathology, University clinic Tübingen, Otfried Müllerstr. 10, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

4 Department for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectiology, University clinic Magdeburg, Leipzigerstr. 44, 39120, Magdeburg, Germany

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Gut Pathogens 2012, 4:8  doi:10.1186/1757-4749-4-8

Published: 3 August 2012

Abstract

Background

“Quorum sensing” (QS) is the phenomenon which allows single bacterial cells to measure the concentration of bacterial signal molecules. Two principle different QS systems are known, the Autoinducer 1 system (AI-1) for the intraspecies communication using different Acyl-homoserine lactones (AHL) and AI-2 for the interspecies communication. Aim of this study was to investigate QS of Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (Mutaflor).

Results

While E. coli Nissle is producing AI-2 in a density dependent manner, no AI-1 was produced. To study the effect of AI-2 in the DSS (dextran sulphate sodium) induced mouse model of acute colitis, we silenced the corresponding gene luxS by intron insertion. The mutant bacterium E. coli Nissle::luxS was equally effective in colonizing the colon and the mutation turned out to be 100% stable during the course of the experiment. Isolating RNA from the colon mucosa and performing semiquantitative RT PCR, we were able to show that the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-y was suppressed in mice being infected with the E. coli Nissle wild type. Mice infected with the E. coli Nissle::luxS mutant showed a suppressed expression of IL-10 compared to uninfected mice, while the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α was higher in these mice. The expression of mBD-1 was suppressed in mice being infected with the mutant in comparison to the mice not infected or infected with the wild type. No differences were seen in the histological examination of the colon sections in the different groups of mice.

Conclusions

E. coli Nissle is producing AI-2 molecules, which are influencing the expression of cytokines in the mucosa of the colon in the DSS mice. However, if QS has a direct influence on the probiotic properties of E. coli Nissle remains to be elucidated.

Keywords:
Quorum sensing; Escherichia coli Nissle; Autoinducer-2; DSS colitis; Cytokines