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Interferon regulatory factor 8 regulates expression of acid ceramidase and infection susceptibility in cystic fibrosis

Lookup NU author(s): Aaron Gardner, Dr Iram Haq, Dr Malcolm Brodlie



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2021 THE AUTHORS. Published by Elsevier Inc on behalf of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license ( patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) suffer from acute and chronic pulmonary infections with bacterial pathogens, which often determine their life quality and expectancy. Previous studies have demonstrated a downregulation of the acid ceramidase in CF epithelial cells resulting in an increase of ceramide and a decrease of sphingosine. Sphingosine kills many bacterial pathogens, and the downregulation of sphingosine seems to determine the infection susceptibility of cystic fibrosis mice and patients. It is presently unknown how deficiency of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) connects to a marked downregulation of the acid ceramidase in human and murine CF epithelial cells. Here, we employed quantitative PCR, western blot analysis, and enzyme activity measurements to study the role of IRF8 for acid ceramidase regulation. We report that genetic deficiency or functional inhibition of CFTR/Cftr results in an upregulation of interferon regulatory factor 8 (IRF8) and a concomitant downregulation of acid ceramidase expression with CF and an increase of ceramide and a reduction of sphingosine levels in tracheal and bronchial epithelial cells from both human individuals or mice. CRISPR/Cas9- or siRNA-mediated downregulation of IRF8 prevented changes of acid ceramidase, ceramide, and sphingosine in CF epithelial cells and restored resistance to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, which is one of the most important and common pathogens in lung infection of patients with CF. These studies indicate that CFTR deficiency causes a downregulation of acid ceramidase via upregulation of IRF8, which is a central pathway to control infection susceptibility of CF cells.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gardner AI, Wu Y, Verhaegh R, Liu Y, Wilker B, Soddemann M, Keitsch S, Edwards MJ, Haq IJ, Kamler M, Becker KA, Brodlie M, Gulbins E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2021

Volume: 296

Online publication date: 09/04/2021

Acceptance date: 31/03/2021

Date deposited: 22/12/2023

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100650

PubMed id: 33839155


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Funder referenceFunder name
DFG grant Gu-335-35/1
MR/M008797/1Medical Research Council (MRC)