Selective induction of human beta-defensin mRNAs by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans in primary and immortalized oral epithelial cells


Dr Aaron Weinberg, DMD, PhD, Department of Periodontics, Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106-6729, USA
Tel.: +1 216 368 6729; fax: +1 216 368 3204; e-mail:


Human beta-defensin-2, and -3 (hBD-2, -3) are small inducible antimicrobial peptides involved in host defense. Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a gram-negative facultative anaerobe, is frequently associated with oral disease in humans. A. actinomycetemcomitans, strain JP2, was examined for its ability to modulate hBD-2 and -3 gene expression in normal human oral epithelial cells (NHOECs) and in OKF6/Tert cells, an immortalized cell line derived from human oral epithelial cells. Stimulation of both cell types by live bacteria, at a minimal bacteria/cell ratio of 500 : 1, resulted in increased hBD-3 gene expression. This was not evinced for hBD-2 in either cell type with live bacteria, even at bacteria/cell ratios exceeding 500 : 1. The increased hBD-3 gene expression was dependent upon viable bacteria, and not their lipopolysaccharides (LPS), since heat-killed A. actinomycetemcomitans did not induce hBD-3 transcript expression. The overall similarity between results obtained in OKF6/Tert cells and NHOECs suggest that the OKF6/Tert cell line may be a useful tool in the study of beta-defensin expression in oral epithelium.