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Infect Immun. 2000 Apr;68(4):1953-63.

Macrophage class A scavenger receptor-mediated phagocytosis of Escherichia coli: role of cell heterogeneity, microbial strain, and culture conditions in vitro.

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  • 1Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3RE, United Kingdom.


Macrophage class A scavenger receptors (SR-AI and SR-AII) contribute to host defense by binding polyanionic ligands such as lipopolysaccharide and lipoteichoic acid. SR-A knockout (SR-A(-/-)) mice are more susceptible to endotoxic shock and Listeria monocytogenes infection in vivo, possibly due to decreased clearance of lipopolysaccharide and microorganisms, respectively. We have used flow cytometry to analyze the role of SR-A and other scavenger-like receptors in phagocytosis of bacteria in vitro. Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with human SR-A bound Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus but ingested few organisms. Primary human monocyte-derived macrophages (Mphi) bound and ingested E. coli more efficiently, and this was partially but selectively blocked by the general SR inhibitor, poly(I). A specific and selective role for SR-A was shown, since bone marrow culture-derived Mphi from SR-A(-/-) mice ingested fewer E. coli organisms than did wild-type cells, while uptake of antibody-opsonized E. coli was unaffected. SR-A-dependent uptake of E. coli varied with the bacterial strain; ingestion of DH5alpha and K1 by SR-A(-/-) Mphi was reduced by 30 to 60% and 70 to 75%, respectively. Phagocytosis and endocytosis via SR-A were markedly down-modulated when Mphi were plated on serum-coated tissue culture plastic compared to bacteriologic plastic, where cell adhesion is mediated by SR-A and CR3, respectively. This paper demonstrates that SR-A can bind and ingest bacteria directly, consistent with a role in host defense in vivo, and highlights the importance of the source of the Mphi, bacterial strain, and culture conditions on receptor function in vitro.

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