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The streptomycin mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea: functional analysis of the microbiota, the pathogen’s virulence factors, and the host’s mucosal immune response

Authors


Wolf-Dietrich Hardt
Departement Biologie
Institut für Mikrobiologie
ETH Zürich, HCI G 417
Wolfgang-Pauli Str. 10
CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 44 632 5143
Fax: +41 44 632 11 29
e-mail: hardt@micro.biol.ethz.ch

Abstract

Summary:  The mammalian intestine is colonized by a dense microbial community, the microbiota. Homeostatic and symbiotic interactions facilitate the peaceful co-existence between the microbiota and the host, and inhibit colonization by most incoming pathogens (‘colonization resistance’). However, if pathogenic intruders overcome colonization resistance, a fierce, innate inflammatory defense can be mounted within hours, the adaptive arm of the immune system is initiated, and the pathogen is fought back. The molecular nature of the homeostatic interactions, the pathogen’s ability to overcome colonization resistance, and the triggering of native and adaptive mucosal immune responses are still poorly understood. To study these mechanisms, the streptomycin mouse model for Salmonella diarrhea is of great value. Here, we review how S. Typhimurium triggers mucosal immune responses by active (virulence factor elicited) and passive (MyD88-dependent) mechanisms and introduce the S. Typhimurium mutants available for focusing on either response. Interestingly, mucosal defense turns out to be a double-edged sword, limiting pathogen burdens in the gut tissue but enhancing pathogen growth in the gut lumen. This model allows not only studying the molecular pathogenesis of Salmonella diarrhea but also is ideally suited for analyzing innate defenses, microbe handling by mucosal phagocytes, adaptive secretory immunoglobulin A responses, probing microbiota function, and homeostatic microbiota–host interactions. Finally, we discuss the general need for defined assay conditions when using animal models for enteric infections and the central importance of littermate controls.

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