Escherichia coli K12: An evolving opportunistic commensal gut microbe distorts barrier integrity in human intestinal cells.


Animal Biochemistry Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India. Electronic address: [Email]


Commensal enteric microbes under specific conditions viz. immunocompromised system, altered microbiota or uncompetitive niche induce their otherwise dormant pathogenic phenotype to distort host cellular functioning. Here we investigate how under in vitro environment established by using Caco-2 cells, commensal gut microbe E. coli K12 (ATCC 14849) disrupt intestinal epithelial barrier function. Caco-2 cells exposed to E. coli showed the time dependent significant (P < 0.01) decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and concomitantly increased phenol red flux across cell monolayer in contrast to non infected control cells. E. coli infected intestinal cells were observed with suppressed (p < 0.05) mRNA levels of ZO-1, Claudin-1, Occludin and Cingulin-1 in contrast to significantly (p < 0.05) higher PIgR and hbd-2 mRNA fold changes. Immunofluorescent and electron micrographs revealed the disrupted distribution and localisation of specific tight junction proteins (Zo-1 and Claudin-1) and actin filament in E. coli infected Caco-2 cells that ultimately resulted in deformed cellular morphology. Taken together, E. coli K12 under compromised in vitro milieu disrupted the intestinal barrier functions by decreasing the expression of important tight junction genes along with the altered distribution of associated proteins that increased the intestinal permeability as reflected by phenol red flux and TEER values.


Caco-2,Commensal microbes,Escherichia coli,Hyperpermeability,Transepithelial electrical resistance,