Non-Apoptotic Toxicity of <em>Pseudomonas aeruginosa</em> toward Murine Cells

<div><p>Although <em>P. aeruginosa</em> is especially dangerous in cystic fibrosis (CF), there is no consensus as to how it kills representative cell types that are of key importance in the lung. This study concerns the acute toxicity of the sequenced strain, PAO1, toward a murine macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7). Toxicity requires brief contact with the target cell, but is then delayed for more than 12 h. None of the classical toxic effectors of this organism is required and cell death occurs without phagocytosis or acute perturbation of the actin cytoskeleton. Apoptosis is not required for toxicity toward either RAW 264.7 cells or for alveolar macrophages. Transcriptional profiling shows that encounter between PAO1 and RAW 264.7 cells elicits an early inflammatory response, followed by growth arrest. As an independent strategy to understand the mechanism of toxicity, we selected variant RAW 264.7 cells that resist PAO1. Upon exposure to <em>P. aeruginosa</em>, they are hyper-responsive with regard to classical inflammatory cytokine production and show transient downregulation of transcripts that are required for cell growth. They do not show obvious morphologic changes. Although they do not increase interferon transcripts, when exposed to PAO1 they dramatically upregulate a subset of the responses that are characteristic of exposure to g-interferon, including several guanylate-binding proteins. The present observations provide a novel foundation for learning how to equip cells with resistance to a complex challenge.</p> </div>