Mycobacterium bovis induces endoplasmic reticulum stress mediated-apoptosis by activating IRF3 in a murine macrophage cell line

Yongyong Cui, Deming Zhao, Srinand Sreevatsan, Chunfa Liu, Wei Yang, Zhiqi Song, Lifeng Yang, Paul Barrow, Xiangmei Zhou

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16 Scopus citations


Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) is highly adapted to macrophages and has developed multiple mechanisms to resist intracellular assaults. However, the host cells in turn deploy a multipronged defense mechanism to control bacterial infection. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-mediated apoptosis is one such primary defense mechanism. However, the role of interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) between ER stress and apoptosis during M. bovis infection is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that M. bovis effectively induced apoptosis in murine macrophages. Caspase-12, caspase-9, and caspase-3 were activated over a 48 h infection period. The splicing of XBP-1 mRNA and the level of phosphorylation of eIF2a, indicators of ER stress, significantly increased at early time points after M. bovis infection. The expansion of the ER compartment, a morphological hallmark of ER stress, was observed at 6 h. Pre-treatment of Raw 264.7 cells with 4-PBA (an ER stress-inhibitor) reduced the activation of the ER stress indicators, caspase activation and its downstream poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage, phosphorylation of TBK1 and IRF3 and cytoplasmic co-localization of STING and TBK1. M. bovis infection led to the interaction of activated IRF3 and cytoplasmic Bax leading to mitochondrial damage. Role of IRF3 in apoptosis was further confirmed by blocking this molecule with BX-795 that showed significant reduction expression of caspase-8 and caspase-3. Intracellular survival of M. bovis increased in response to 4-PBA and BX-795. These findings indicate that STING-TBK1-IRF3 pathway mediates a crosstalk between ER stress and apoptosis during M. bovis infection, which can effectively control intracellular bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number182
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Jin Wang, Dr. Ruichao Yue, Dr. Chaosi Li, Dr. Guangyu Cheng for their valuable suggestions and critical reading of this manuscript. This work was supported by the MoSTRCUK international cooperation project (Project No. 2013DFG32500), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 31572487), Funding of State Key Lab of Agrobiotechnology (Project No. 2012SKLAB06-14). 2015 CAU Foreign Experts Major Projects (Project No: 2012z018). High-end Foreign Experts Recruitment Program (Project No: GDW20151100036).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Cui, Zhao, Sreevatsan, Liu, Yang, Song, Yang, Barrow and Zhou.


  • Apoptosis
  • ER stress
  • IRF3
  • M. bovis
  • Mycobacterium


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