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Abstract

Bacterial infection is a dynamic process resulting in a heterogenous population of infected and uninfected cells. These cells respond differently based on their bacterial load and duration of infection. In the case of infection of macrophages with Crohn’s disease (CD) associated adherent-invasive (AIEC), understanding the drivers of pathogen success may allow targeting of cells where AIEC replicate to high levels. Here we show that stratifying immune cells based on their bacterial load identifies novel pathways and therapeutic targets not previously associated with AIEC when using a traditional homogeneous infected population approach. Using flow cytometry-based cell sorting we stratified cells into those with low or high intracellular pathogen loads, or those which were bystanders to infection. Immune cells transcriptomics revealed a diverse response to the varying levels of infection while pathway analysis identified novel intervention targets that were directly related to increasing intracellular AIEC numbers. Chemical inhibition of identified targets reduced AIEC intracellular replication or inhibited secretion of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), a key cytokine associated with AIEC infection. Our results have identified new avenues of intervention in AIEC infection that may also be applicable to CD through the repurposing of already available inhibitors. Additionally, they highlight the applicability of immune cell stratification post-infection as an effective approach for the study of microbial pathogens.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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/content/journal/micro/10.1099/mic.0.001470
2024-06-25
2024-07-15
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