Noncanonical activation of β-catenin by Porphyromonas gingivalis

Yun Zhou, Maryta Sztukowska, Qian Wang, Hiroaki Inaba, Jan Potempa, David A. Scott, Huizhi Wang, Richard J. Lamont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Porphyromonas gingivalis is an established pathogen in periodontal disease and an emerging pathogen in serious systemic conditions, including some forms of cancer. We investigated the effect of P. gingivalis on β-catenin signaling, a major pathway in the control of cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Infection of gingival epithelial cells with P. gingivalis did not influence the phosphorylation status of β-catenin but resulted in proteolytic processing. The use of mutants deficient in gingipain production, along with gingipain-specific inhibitors, revealed that gingipain proteolytic activity was required for β-catenin processing. The β-catenin destruction complex components Axin1, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), and GSK3β were also proteolytically processed by P. gingivalis gingipains. Cell fractionation and Western blotting demonstrated that β-catenin fragments were translocated to the nucleus. The accumulation of β-catenin in the nucleus following P. gingivalis infection was confirmed by immunofluorescence microscopy. A luciferase reporter assay showed that P. gingivalis increased the activity of the β-catenin-dependent TCF/LEF promoter. P. gingivalis did not increase Wnt3a mRNA levels, a finding consistent with P. gingivalis-induced proteolytic processing causing the increase in TCF/LEF promoter activity. Thus, our data indicate that P. gingivalis can induce the noncanonical activation of β-catenin and disassociation of the β-catenin destruction complex by gingipain-dependent proteolytic processing. β-Catenin activation in epithelial cells by P. gingivalis may contribute to a proliferative phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3195-3203
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Noncanonical activation of β-catenin by Porphyromonas gingivalis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this