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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Salmonella flagellin induces tumor necrosis factor alpha in a human promonocytic cell line.

During infection of the gastrointestinal tract, salmonellae induce cytokine production and inflammatory responses which are believed to mediate tissue damage in the host. In a previous study, we reported that salmonellae possess the ability to stimulate tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) accumulation in primary human monocytes, as well as in the human promonocytic cell line U38. In this model system, cytokine upregulation is not due to lipopolysaccharide but is mediated by a released protein. In the present study, TnphoA transposon mutagenesis was used to identify the TNF-alpha-inducing factor. A mutant Salmonella strain which lacks the ability to induce TNF-alpha was isolated from a TnphoA library. Genetic analysis of this mutant demonstrated that the hns gene has been interrupted by transposon insertion. The hns gene product is a DNA-binding protein that regulates the expression of a variety of unrelated genes in salmonellae. One of the known targets of histone-like protein H1 is flhDC, the master operon which is absolutely required for flagellar expression. Analysis of other nonflagellated mutant Salmonella strains revealed a correlation between the ability to induce TNF-alpha and the expression of the phase 1 filament subunit protein FliC. Complementation experiments demonstrated that FliC is sufficient to restore the ability of nonflagellated mutant Salmonella strains to upregulate TNF-alpha, whereas the phase 2 protein FljB appears to complement to a lesser extent. In addition, Salmonella FliC can confer the TNF-alpha-inducing phenotype on Escherichia coli, which otherwise lacks the activity. Furthermore, assembly of FliC into complete flagellar structures may not be required for induction of TNF-alpha.[1]


  1. Salmonella flagellin induces tumor necrosis factor alpha in a human promonocytic cell line. Ciacci-Woolwine, F., Blomfield, I.C., Richardson, S.H., Mizel, S.B. Infect. Immun. (1998) [Pubmed]
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