Chromosome-associated protein D3 promotes bacterial clearance in human intestinal epithelial cells by repressing expression of amino acid transporters

Schuster AT, Homer CR, Kemp JR, Nickerson KP, Deutschman E, Kim Y, West G, Sadler T, Stylianou E, Krokowski D, Hatzoglou M, de la Motte C, Rubin BP, Fiocchi C, McDonald C, Longworth MS. Gastroenterology. 2015 Jun;148(7):1405-16.e3. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.02.013. PMID: 25701737

Defects in colonic epithelial barrier defenses are associated with ulcerative colitis (UC). The proteins that regulate bacterial clearance in the colonic epithelium have not been completely identified. The Drosophila chromosome-associated protein D3 (dCAP-D3) regulates responses to bacterial infection. We examined whether CAP-D3 promotes bacterial clearance in human colonic epithelium.

Clearance of Salmonella or adherent-invasive Escherichia coli LF82 was assessed by gentamycin protection assays in HT-29 and Caco-2 cells expressing small hairpin RNAs against CAP-D3. We used immunoblot assays to measure levels of CAP-D3 in colonic epithelial cells from patients with UC and healthy individuals (controls). RNA sequencing identified genes activated by CAP-D3. We analyzed the roles of CAP-D3 target genes in bacterial clearance using gentamycin protection and immunofluorescence assays and studies with pharmacologic inhibitors.

CAP-D3 expression was reduced in colonic epithelial cells from patients with active UC. Reduced CAP-D3 expression decreased autophagy and impaired intracellular bacterial clearance by HT-29 and Caco-2 colonic epithelial cells. Lower levels of CAP-D3 increased transcription of genes encoding SLC7A5 and SLC3A2, the products of which heterodimerize to form an amino acid transporter in HT-29 cells after bacterial infection; levels of SLC7A5-SLC3A2 were increased in tissues from patients with UC compared with controls. Reduced CAP-D3 in HT-29 cells resulted in earlier recruitment of SLC7A5 to Salmonella-containing vacuoles, increased activity of mTORC1, and increased survival of bacteria. Inhibition of SLC7A5-SLC3A2 or mTORC1 activity rescued the bacterial clearance defects of CAP-D3-deficient cells.

CAP-D3 down-regulates transcription of genes that encode amino acid transporters (SLC7A5 and SLC3A2) to promote bacterial autophagy by colon epithelial cells. Levels of CAP-D3 protein are reduced in patients with active UC; strategies to increase its levels might restore mucosal homeostasis to patients with active UC.