Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infection stimulates Shiga toxin 1 macropinocytosis and transcytosis across intestinal epithelial cells.
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Gastrointestinal infection with Shiga toxins producing enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli causes the spectrum of gastrointestinal and systemic complications, including hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is fatal in ?10% of patients. However, the molecular mechanisms of Stx endocytosis by enterocytes and the toxins cross the intestinal epithelium are largely uncharacterized. We have studied Shiga toxin 1 entry into enterohemorrhagic E. coli-infected intestinal epithelial cells and found that bacteria stimulate Shiga toxin 1 macropinocytosis through actin remodeling. This enterohemorrhagic E. coli-caused macropinocytosis occurs through a nonmuscle myosin II and cell division control 42 (Cdc42)-dependent mechanism. Macropinocytosis of Shiga toxin 1 is followed by its transcytosis to the basolateral environment, a step that is necessary for its systemic spread. Inhibition of Shiga toxin 1 macropinocytosis significantly decreases toxin uptake by intestinal epithelial cells and in this way provides an attractive, antibiotic-independent strategy for prevention of the harmful consequences of enterohemorrhagic E. coli infection.