Epigenetic regulation of leukocyte inflammatory mediator production dictates staphylococcus aureus craniotomy infection outcome

Zachary Van Roy, Wen Shi, Gunjan Kak, Bin Duan, Tammy Kielian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of surgical-site infections, including those arising after craniotomy, which is performed to access the brain for the treatment of tumors, epilepsy, or hemorrhage. Craniotomy infection is characterized by complex spatial and temporal dynamics of leukocyte recruitment and microglial activation. We recently identified unique transcriptional profiles of these immune populations during S. aureus craniotomy infection. Epigenetic processes allow rapid and reversible control over gene transcription; however, little is known about how epigenetic pathways influence immunity to live S. aureus. An epigenetic compound library screen identified bromodomain and extraterminal domain_containing (BET) proteins and histone deacetylases (HDACs) as critical for regulating TNF, IL-6, IL-10, and CCL2 production by primary mouse microglia, macrophages, neutrophils, and granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells in response to live S. aureus. Class I HDACs (c1HDACs) were increased in these cell types in vitro and in vivo during acute disease in a mouse model of S. aureus craniotomy infection. However, substantial reductions in c1HDACs were observed during chronic infection, highlighting temporal regulation and the importance of the tissue microenvironment for dictating c1HDAC expression. Microparticle delivery of HDAC and BET inhibitors in vivo caused widespread decreases in inflammatory mediator production, which significantly increased bacterial burden in the brain, galea, and bone flap. These findings identify histone acetylation as an important mechanism for regulating cytokine and chemokine production across diverse immune cell lineages that is critical for bacterial containment. Accordingly, aberrant epigenetic regulation may be important for promoting S. aureus persistence during craniotomy infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-428
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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