U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Date of this Version


Document Type



PNAS, December 5, 2000; vol. 97, no. 25, 13847-13852


Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, has many well-studied virulence factors and a characteristic clinical presentation. Despite this information, it is not clear how B. pertussis interaction with host cells leads to disease. In this study, we examined the interaction of B. pertussis with a human bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS-2B) and measured host transcriptional profiles by using high-density DNA microarrays. The early transcriptional response to this pathogen is dominated by altered expression of cytokines, DNA-binding proteins, and NFKB-regulated genes. This previously unrecognized response to B. pertussis was modified in similar but non-identical fashions by the anti-inflammatory agents dexamethasone and sodium salicylate. Cytokine protein expression was confirmed, as was neutrophil chemoattraction. We show that B. pertussis induces mucin gene transcription by BEAS-2B cells then counters this defense by using mucin as a binding substrate. A set of genes is described for which the catalytic activity of pertussis toxin is both necessary and sufficient to regulate transcription. Host genomic transcriptional profiling, in combination with functional assays to evaluate sub- sequent biological events, provides insight into the complex interaction of host and pathogen.