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Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a leading cause of childhood death from diarrhea and the leading cause of Traveler's diarrhea. E. coli heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) is a major virulence factor of ETEC and inhibits the brush border Na/H exchanger NHE3 in producing diarrhea. NHE3 regulation involves multiprotein signaling complexes that form on its COOH terminus. In this study, the hypothesis was tested that ST signals via members of the Na/H exchanger regulatory factor (NHERF) family of scaffolding proteins, NHERF2, which had been previously shown to have a role, and now with concentration on a role for NHERF3. Two models were used: mouse small intestine and Caco-2/BBe cells. In both models, ST rapidly increased intracellular cGMP, inhibited NHE3 activity, and caused a quantitatively similar decrease in apical expression of NHE3. The transport effects were NHERF3 and NHERF2 dependent. Also, mutation of the COOH-terminal amino acids of NHERF3 supported that NHERF3-NHERF2 heterodimerization was likely to account for this dual dependence. The ST increase in cGMP in both models was partially dependent on NHERF3. The intracellular signaling pathways by which ST-cGMP inhibits NHE3 were different in mouse jejunum (activation of cGMP kinase II, cGKII) and Caco-2 cells, which do not express cGKII (elevation of intracellular Ca2+ concentration [Ca2+]i). The ST elevation of [Ca2+]i was from intracellular stores and was dependent on NHERF3-NHERF2. This study shows that intracellular signaling in the same diarrheal model in multiple cell types may be different; this has implications for therapeutic strategies, which often assume that models have similar signaling mechanisms.


Tiane Chen, Ruxian Lin, Leela Avula, Rafiquel Sarker, Jianbo Yang, Boyoung Cha, Chung Ming Tse, George McNamara, Ursula Seidler, Scott Waldman, Adam Snook, Marcel J C Bijvelds, Hugo R de Jonge, Xuhang Li, Mark Donowitz. NHERF3 is necessary for Escherichia coli heat-stable enterotoxin-induced inhibition of NHE3: differences in signaling in mouse small intestine and Caco-2 cells. American journal of physiology. Cell physiology. 2019 Oct 01;317(4):C737-C748

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PMID: 31365292

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