Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter Affects Neutrophil Bactericidal Activity during Staphylococcus aureus Infection

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Neutrophils simultaneously restrict Staphylococcus aureus dissemination and facilitate bactericidal activity during infection through the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). Neutrophils that produce higher levels of mitochondrial superoxide undergo enhanced terminal NET formation (suicidal NETosis) in response to S. aureus; however, mechanisms regulating mitochondrial homeostasis upstream of neutrophil antibacterial processes are not fully resolved. Here, we demonstrate that mitochondrial calcium uptake 1 (MICU1)-deficient (MICU1) neutrophils accumulate higher levels of calcium and iron within the mitochondria in a mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU)-dependent manner. Corresponding with increased ion flux through the MCU, mitochondrial superoxide production is elevated, thereby increasing the propensity for MICU1 neutrophils to undergo suicidal NETosis rather than primary degranulation in response to S. aureus. Increased NET formation augments macrophage killing of bacterial pathogens. Similarly, MICU1 neutrophils alone are not more antibacterial toward S. aureus, but rather, enhanced suicidal NETosis by MICU1 neutrophils facilitates increased bactericidal activity in the presence of macrophages. Similarly, mice with a deficiency in MICU1 restricted to cells expressing LysM exhibit lower bacterial burdens in the heart with increased survival during systemic S. aureus infection. Coinciding with the decrease in S. aureus burdens, MICU1 neutrophils in the heart produce higher levels of mitochondrial superoxide and undergo enhanced suicidal NETosis. These results demonstrate that ion flux by the MCU affects the antibacterial function of neutrophils during S. aureus infection.

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Infection and immunity

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