Author(s): Rosenberger CM, Gallo RL, Finlay BB
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Abstract Antimicrobial peptides have established an important role in the defense against extracellular infections, but the expression of cationic peptides within macrophages as an antibacterial effector mechanism against intracellular pathogens has not been demonstrated. Macrophage expression of the murine cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide (CRAMP) was increased after infection by the intracellular pathogen Salmonella typhimurium, and this increase required reactive oxygen intermediates. By using CRAMP-deficient mice or synthetic CRAMP peptide, we found that CRAMP impaired Salmonella cell division in vivo and in vitro, resulting in long filamentous bacteria. This impaired bacterial cell division also depended on intracellular elastase-like serine protease activity, which can proteolytically activate cathelicidins. Macrophage serine protease activity induced filamentation and enhanced the activity of CRAMP in vitro. A peptide-sensitive Salmonella mutant showed enhanced survival within macrophages derived from CRAMP-deficient mice, indicating that Salmonella can sense and respond to cationic peptides in the intracellular environment. Although cationic peptides have been hypothesized to have activity against pathogens within macrophages, this work provides experimental evidence that the antimicrobial arsenal of macrophages includes cathelicidins. These results show that intracellular reactive oxygen intermediates and proteases regulate macrophage CRAMP expression and activity to impair the replication of an intracellular bacterial pathogen, and they highlight the cooperativity between macrophage antibacterial effectors.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology