Molecular Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 430–441 | Cite as

Modular Transcriptional Networks of the Host Pulmonary Response during Early and Late Pneumococcal Pneumonia

  • Brendon P. Scicluna
  • Miriam H. van Lieshout
  • Dana C. Blok
  • Sandrine Florquin
  • Tom van der Poll
Research Article


Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spneu) remains the most lethal bacterial pathogen and the dominant agent of community-acquired pneumonia. Treatment has perennially focused on the use of antibiotics, albeit scrutinized due to the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant Spneu strains. Immunomodulatory strategies have emerged as potential treatment options. Although promising, immunomodulation can lead to improper tissue functions either at steady state or upon infectious challenge. This argues for the availability of tools to enable a detailed assessment of whole pulmonary functions during the course of infection, not only those functions biased to the defense response. Thus, through the use of an unbiased tissue microarray and bioinformatics approach, we aimed to construct a comprehensive map of whole-lung transcriptional activity and cellular pathways during the course of pneumococcal pneumonia. We performed genome-wide transcriptional analysis of whole lungs before and 6 and 48 h after Spneu infection in mice. The 4,000 most variable transcripts across all samples were used to assemble a gene coexpression network comprising 13 intercorrelating modules (clusters of genes). Fifty-four percent of this whole-lung transcriptional network was altered 6 and 48 h after Spneu infection. Canonical signaling pathway analysis uncovered known pathways imparting protection, including IL17A/IL17F signaling and previously undetected mechanisms that included lipid metabolism. Through in silico prediction of cell types, pathways were observed to enrich for distinct cell types such as a novel stromal cell lipid metabolism pathway. These cellular mechanisms were furthermore anchored at functional hub genes of cellular fate, differentiation, growth and transcription. Collectively, we provide a benchmark unsupervised map of whole-lung transcriptional relationships and cellular activity during early and late pneumococcal pneumonia.



We thank Joost Daalhuisen and Regina de Beer for expert technical assistance and the animal caretakers of the AMC animal research core facility.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Brendon P. Scicluna
    • 1
  • Miriam H. van Lieshout
    • 1
  • Dana C. Blok
    • 1
  • Sandrine Florquin
    • 2
  • Tom van der Poll
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine and Center for Infection and Immunity AmsterdamUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Pathology, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Division of Infectious Diseases, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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