Escherichia coli is the most common Gram-negative organism causing neonatal meningitis. Previous studies demonstrated that E. coli K1 invasion of brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMEC) is required for penetration into the central nervous system, but the microbe-host interactions that are involved in this process remain incompletely understood. Here we report the involvement of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1) expressed on human brain microvascular endothelial cells (HBMEC) in E. coli K1 invasion of HBMEC. Our results showed that treatment of confluent HBMEC with pan-VEGFR inhibitors significantly inhibited E. coli K1 invasion of HBMEC. Immunofluorescence results indicated the colocalization of VEGFR1 with E. coli K1 during bacterial invasion of HBMEC. The E. coli-induced actin cytoskeleton rearrangements in HBMEC were blocked by VEGFR inhibitors but not by VEGFR2-specific inhibitors. The small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown of VEGFR1 in HBMEC significantly attenuated E. coli invasion and the concomitant actin filament rearrangement. Furthermore, we found an increased association of VEGFR1 with the p85 subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) in HBMEC infected with E. coli K1 and that E. coli K1-triggered Akt activation in HBMEC was blocked by VEGFR1 siRNA and VEGFR inhibitors. Taken together, our results demonstrate that VEGFR1 contributes to E. coli K1 invasion of HBMEC via recruitment of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases