TLR2-induced calpain cleavage of epithelial junctional proteins facilitates leukocyte transmigration

Chun J, Prince A.
Source: Cell Host & Microbe
Publication Date: (2009)
Issue: 5(1): 47-58
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Epithelial, Small Airway, human (SAEC)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: lung
Recruitment of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) into the lungs in response to inhaled pathogens is initiated by epithelial signaling, the activation of toll-like receptors (TLRs), and the production of the chemokine interleukin-8. To reach the site of infection, PMNs must be mobilized through epithelial junctions. Here, we demonstrate that Ca(2+) fluxes generated by TLR2 signals activate calpains, Ca(2+)-dependent cysteine proteases. These activated calpains cleave the transmembrane junctional proteins occludin and E-cadherin without breaching the integrity of the epithelial barrier. Calpain inhibitors decrease PMN transepithelial migration in response to TLR2 agonists both in vitro and in a mouse model of P. aeruginosa infection. Thus, TLR2 signaling in the airway not only induces chemokine expression to recruit PMNs, but also initiates cleavage of junctional proteins to accommodate transmigration of the recruited PMNs.