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Rapid modulation of electrolyte transport in Caco-2 cell monolayers by enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) infection
  1. G K Collington,
  2. I W Booth,
  3. S Knutton
  1. Institute of Child Health, University of Birmingham
  1. Dr G K Collington, Institute of Child Health, University of Birmingham, Francis Road, Birmingham B16 8ET, UK.


Background and aims—The pathophysiology of enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) diarrhoea remains uncertain. EPEC adhere to enterocytes and transduce signals which produce a characteristic “attaching and effacing” (A/E) lesion in the brush border membrane. The present in vitro study was designed to determine whether signal transduction by EPEC also influences electrolyte transport.

Methods—Caco-2 cell monolayers were rapidly infected with wild type EPEC strain E2348/69, or the signal transduction-defective mutant 14.2.1(1), and mounted in Ussing chambers.

Results—Strain E2348/69 stimulated a rapid but transient increase in short circuit current (Isc) which coincided with A/E lesion formation; this Isc response was absent on infection with strain 14.2.1(1). While the initial rise inIsc induced by E2348/69 was partially (∼35%) dependent on chloride, the remainder possibly represents an influx of sodium and amino acid(s) across the apical membrane.

Conclusions—The study directly shows that, after initial adhesion, EPEC induce major alterations in host cell electrolyte transport. The observed Isc responses indicate a rapid modulation of electrolyte transport in Caco-2 cells by EPEC, including stimulation of chloride secretion, for which signal transduction to host cells is a prerequisite.

  • enteropathogenic Escherichia coli
  • Caco-2 cells
  • Ussing chambers
  • electrolyte transport
  • signal transduction

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