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Pseudomonas aeruginosa stimulates nuclear sphingosine-1-phosphate generation and epigenetic regulation of lung inflammatory injury
  1. David L Ebenezer1,
  2. Evgeny V Berdyshev2,
  3. Irina A Bronova2,
  4. Yuru Liu3,
  5. Chinnaswamy Tiruppathi3,
  6. Yulia Komarova3,
  7. Elizaveta V Benevolenskaya1,
  8. Vidyani Suryadevara4,
  9. Alison W Ha1,
  10. Anantha Harijith5,
  11. Rubin M Tuder6,
  12. Viswanathan Natarajan3,4,
  13. Panfeng Fu3
  1. 1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado, USA
  3. 3 Department of Pharmacology, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4 Department of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5 Department of Pediatrics, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  6. 6 Department of Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Viswanathan Natarajan and Dr Panfeng Fu, Department of Pharmacology, University of Illinois, Chicago IL 60612, USA; visnatar{at}, pfu{at}


Introduction Dysregulated sphingolipid metabolism has been implicated in the pathogenesis of various pulmonary disorders. Nuclear sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) has been shown to regulate histone acetylation, and therefore could mediate pro-inflammatory genes expression.

Methods Profile of sphingolipid species in bronchoalveolar lavage fluids and lung tissue of mice challenged with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) was investigated. The role of nuclear sphingosine kinase (SPHK)2 and S1P in lung inflammatory injury by PA using genetically engineered mice was determined.

Results Genetic deletion of Sphk2, but not Sphk1, in mice conferred protection from PA-mediated lung inflammation. PA infection stimulated phosphorylation of SPHK2 and its localisation in epithelial cell nucleus, which was mediated by protein kinase C (PKC) δ. Inhibition of PKC δ or SPHK2 activity reduced PA-mediated acetylation of histone H3 and H4, which was necessary for the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α. The clinical significance of the findings is supported by enhanced nuclear localisation of p-SPHK2 in the epithelium of lung specimens from patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Conclusions Our studies define a critical role for nuclear SPHK2/S1P signalling in epigenetic regulation of bacterial-mediated inflammatory lung injury. Targeting SPHK2 may represent a potential strategy to reduce lung inflammatory pulmonary disorders such as pneumonia and CF.

  • bacterial infection
  • respiratory infection
  • airway epithelium
  • pneumonia
  • cystic fibrosis

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  • VN and PF contributed equally.

  • Contributors PF, DLE, VN, CT, YK, and EVB designed the research; DLE, EVB, IAB, VS, AWH, AH, RMT and VN performed the experiments; VN, DLE and PF analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was partly supported by the US National Institutes of Health grant P01 Hl09850 to VN.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. A correction was made to Figure 4.