Inhibition of apoptosis in Cryptosporidium parvum-infected intestinal epithelial cells is dependent on survivin

Jin Liu, Shinichiro Enomoto, Cheryl A. Lancto, Mitchell S. Abrahamsen, Mark S. Rutherford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Cryptosporidium parvum is an obligate intracellular protozoan capable of causing severe diarrheal disease in a wide variety of mammals, including humans. C. parvum infection has been associated with induction of apoptosis in exposed epithelial cells, and we now demonstrate that apoptosis is restricted to a subset of cells actively infected with C. parvum. Approximately 20% of the infected cells underwent apoptosis within 48 h of infection, suggesting that the majority of the infected cells are rescued from apoptosis. C. parvum infection resulted in low-level activation of multiple members of the caspase family, including caspase-2, -3, -4, -6, -8, and -9. The kinetics of caspase activation correlated with apoptosis over a 48-h time course. Pan caspase inhibitors reduced apoptosis of epithelial cells infected by C. parvum. Furthermore, C. parvum infection inhibited staurosporine-induced apoptosis and caspase-3/7 activation at 24 h and 48 h. Infection with C. parvum led to upregulation of genes encoding inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs), including c-IAP1, c-IAP2, XIAP, and survivin. Knockdown of survivin gene expression, but not that of c-IAP1, c-IAP2, or XIAP expression, increased caspase-3/7 activity as well as apoptosis of infected cells and decreased C. parvum 18S rRNA levels. These data suggest that the apoptotic response of infected intestinal epithelial cells is actively suppressed by C. parvum via upregulation of survivin, favoring parasite infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3784-3792
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


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