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Infect Immun. 1991 Mar;59(3):822-8.

Interaction of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with A549 pneumocyte cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


The interaction of Pseudomonas aeruginosa with a human lung pneumocyte cell line (A549) was studied. Wild-type strain PAK adhered efficiently to the A549 cells, while an isogenic mutant, carrying a mutation in the pilin structural gene, adhered at 10 to 20% of the wild-type levels. Another nonpiliated mutant of P. aeruginosa PAK, defective in the pleiotropic regulatory gene rpoN, did not adhere to A549 cells, suggesting the presence of a second, RpoN-controlled adhesin on the bacterial surface. Endocytosis of wild-type P. aeruginosa PAK by A549 cells was also demonstrated. A significant fraction of the internalized bacteria were recovered in a viable form after several hours of residence within the A549 cells. When examined by electron microscopy, intracellular bacteria were located in membranous vesicles, and no evidence of killing by lysosomal mechanisms was observed. These studies raise the possibility that during chronic respiratory tract infections in immunocompromised patients, P. aeruginosa may persist in intracellular compartments and therefore be protected from the defense mechanisms of the host.

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