Porphyromonas somerae Invasion of Endometrial Cancer Cells

Taylor A. Crooks, Joseph D. Madison, Dana M. Walsh, William G. Herbert, Patricio R. Jeraldo, Nicholas Chia, William A. Cliby, Scott H. Kaufmann, Marina R.S. Walther-Antonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence suggests an association between endometrial cancer and the understudied bacterial species Porphyromonas somerae. This association was demonstrated in previous work that indicated a significantly enriched abundance of P. somerae in the uterine microbiome of endometrial cancer patients. Given the known associations of the Porphyromonas genus and oral cancer, we hypothesized that P. somerae may play a similar pathogenic role in endometrial cancer via intracellular activity. Before testing our hypothesis, we first characterized P. somerae biology, as current background data is limited. These novel characterizations include growth curves in liquid medium and susceptibility tests to antibiotics. We tested our hypothesis by examining growth changes in response to 17β-estradiol, a known risk factor for endometrial cancer, followed by metabolomic profiling in the presence and absence of 17β-estradiol. We found that P. somerae exhibits increased growth in the presence of 17β-estradiol of various concentrations. However, we did not find significant changes in metabolite levels in response to 17β-estradiol. To study direct host-microbe interactions, we used in vitro invasion assays under hypoxic conditions and found evidence for intracellular invasion of P. somerae in endometrial adenocarcinoma cells. We also examined these interactions in the presence of 17β-estradiol but did not observe changes in invasion frequency. Invasion was shown using three lines of evidence including visualization via differential staining and brightfield microscopy, increased frequency of bacterial recovery after co-culturing, and in silico methods to detail relevant genomic and transcriptomic components. These results underscore potential intracellular phenotypes of P. somerae within the uterine microbiome. Furthermore, these results raise new questions pertaining to the role of P. somerae in the progression of endometrial cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number674835
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - Jul 23 2021


  • Porphyromonas somerae
  • endometrial cancer
  • estradiol
  • fumarate reductase
  • intracellular invasion
  • metabolomics
  • succinate dehydrogenase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Porphyromonas somerae Invasion of Endometrial Cancer Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this