Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium chitinases modulate the intestinal glycome and promote small intestinal invasion

Jason R. Devlin, William Santus, Jorge Mendez, Wenjing Peng, Aiying Yu, Junyao Wang, Xiomarie Alejandro-Navarreto, Kaitlyn Kiernan, Manmeet Singh, Peilin Jiang, Yehia Mechref, Judith Behnsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) is one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses worldwide. To colonize the gastrointestinal tract, S. Typhimurium produces multiple virulence factors that facilitate cellular invasion. Chitinases have been recently emerging as virulence factors for various pathogenic bacterial species, and the S. Typhimurium genome contains two annotated chitinases: STM0018 (chiA) and STM0233. However, the role of these chitinases during S. Typhimurium pathogenesis is unknown. The putative chitinase STM0233 has not been studied previously, and only limited data exists on ChiA. Chitinases typically hydrolyze chitin polymers, which are absent in vertebrates. However, chiA expression was detected in infection models and purified ChiA cleaved carbohydrate subunits present on mammalian surface glycoproteins, indicating a role during pathogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that expression of chiA and STM0233 is upregulated in the mouse gut and that both chitinases facilitate epithelial cell adhesion and invasion. S. Typhimurium lacking both chitinases showed a 70% reduction in invasion of small intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. In a gastroenteritis mouse model, chitinase-deficient S. Typhimurium strains were also significantly attenuated in the invasion of small intestinal tissue. This reduced invasion resulted in significantly delayed S. Typhimurium dissemination to the spleen and the liver, but chitinases were not required for systemic survival. The invasion defect of the chitinase-deficient strain was rescued by the presence of wild-type S. Typhimurium, suggesting that chitinases are secreted. By analyzing N-linked glycans of small intestinal cells, we identified specific N-acetylglucosaminecontaining glycans as potential extracellular targets of S. Typhimurium chitinases. This analysis also revealed a differential abundance of Lewis X/A-containing glycans that is likely a result of host cell modulation due to the detection of S. Typhimurium chitinases. Similar glycomic changes elicited by chitinase deficient strains indicate functional redundancy of the chitinases. Overall, our results demonstrate that S. Typhimurium chitinases contribute to intestinal adhesion and invasion through modulation of the host glycome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010167
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


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