Central to the pathogenesis of Salmonella typhimurium is its ability to engage the host cell in a two-way biochemical interaction. As a consequence of this interaction, a dedicated protein secretion system, termed type III, is activated in these bacteria and directs the translocation of signaling proteins into the host cell. Secretion of these proteins stimulates host cell signal transduction pathways that lead to a variety of cellular responses. An important feature of S. typhimurium pathogenesis is the induction of a profound inflammatory response in the intestinal epithelium. In this report, we show that S. typhimurium induces host cell signal transduction pathways that lead to the activation of the transcription factors NF-kappaB and AP-1, resulting in the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-8. We also show that S. typhimurium infection of cultured intestinal epithelial cells results in the activation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases ERK, JNK, and p38. Induction of these signaling pathways and the synthesis of IL-8 was strictly dependent on the function of the invasion-associated type III protein secretion system encoded by S. typhimurium. Pretreatment of cells with the highly specific p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB 203580 prevented S. typhimurium-induced IL-8 production. These results indicate that the inflammatory response induced by S. typhimurium may be due to the specific stimulation of MAP kinase signaling pathways leading to nuclear responses.

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