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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 427021, 12 pages
Research Article

The Role of Mcl-1 in S. aureus-Induced Cytoprotection of Infected Macrophages

1Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
2Broegelmann Research Laboratory, The Gade Institute, University of Bergen, 50021 Bergen, Norway
3Oral Health and Systemic Diseases Research Group, School of Dentistry, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40204, USA

Received 11 October 2012; Revised 7 December 2012; Accepted 10 December 2012

Academic Editor: Chiou-Feng Lin

Copyright © 2013 Joanna Koziel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As a facultative intracellular pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus invades macrophages and then promotes the cytoprotection of infected cells thus stabilizing safe niche for silent persistence. This process occurs through the upregulation of crucial antiapoptotic genes, in particular, myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1). Here, we investigated the underlying mechanism and signal transduction pathways leading to increased MCL-1 expression in infected macrophages. Live S. aureus not only stimulated de novo synthesis of Mcl-1, but also prolonged the stability of this antiapoptotic protein. Consistent with this, we proved a crucial role of Mcl-1 in S. aureus-induced cytoprotection, since silencing of MCL1 by siRNA profoundly reversed the cytoprotection of infected cells leading to apoptosis. Increased MCL1 expression in infected cells was associated with enhanced NF B activation and subsequent IL-6 secretion, since the inhibition of both NF B and IL-6 signalling pathways abrogated Mcl-1 induction and cytoprotection. Finally, we confirmed our observation in vivo in murine model of septic arthritis showing the association between the severity of arthritis and Mcl-1 expression. Therefore, we propose that S. aureus is hijacking the Mcl-1-dependent inhibition of apoptosis to prevent the elimination of infected host cells, thus allowing the intracellular persistence of the pathogen, its dissemination by infected macrophages, and the progression of staphylococci diseases.