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Enterococcus faecalis induces aneuploidy and tetraploidy in colonic epithelial cells through a bystander effect.

  • 2008-12-01
  • Cancer Research 68(23)
    • Xingmin Wang
    • Toby D. Allen
    • R. May
    • S. Lightfoot
    • C. Houchen
    • M. Huycke


Intestinal commensals are potential important contributors to the etiology of sporadic colorectal cancer, but mechanisms by which bacteria can initiate tumors remain uncertain. Herein, we describe mechanisms that link Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium known to produce extracellular superoxide, to the acute induction of chromosomal instability. Immortalized human and nontransformed murine colonic epithelial cells, along with a mouse colonic ligation model, were used to assess the effect of E. faecalis on genomic DNA stability and damage. We found that this human intestinal commensal generated aneuploidy, tetraploidy, and gammaH2AX foci in HCT116, RKO, and YAMC cells. In addition, direct exposure of E. faecalis to these cells induced a G2 cell cycle arrest. Similar observations were noted by exposing cells to E. faecalis-infected macrophages in a dual-chamber coculture system for detecting bystander effects. Manganese superoxide dismutase, catalase, and tocopherols attenuated, and caffeine and inhibitors of glutathione synthase exacerbated, the aneugenic effects and linked the redox-active phenotype of this intestinal commensal to potentially transforming events. These findings provide novel insights into mechanisms by which E. faecalis and intestinal commensals can contribute to cellular transformation and tumorigenesis.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Enterococcus faecalis TH10Increased Chromosomal InstabilityHarmful
Enterococcus faecalis TH10Increased G2 Cell Cycle ArrestHarmful
Enterococcus faecalis TH10Occurrence of AneuploidyHarmful
Enterococcus faecalis TH10Presence of TetraploidyHarmful
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