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Infect Immun. 2009 Dec;77(12):5676-81. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00856-09. Epub 2009 Sep 21.

Rhodococcus equi virulence-associated protein A is required for diversion of phagosome biogenesis but not for cytotoxicity.

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  • 1Cell Biology Institute, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

Abstract

Rhodococcus equi is a gram-positive facultative intracellular pathogen that can cause severe bronchopneumonia in foals and AIDS patients. Virulence is plasmid regulated and is accompanied by phagosome maturation arrest and host cell necrosis. A replacement mutant in the gene for VapA (virulence-associated protein A), a major virulence factor of R. equi, was tested for its activities during macrophage infection. Early in infection, phagosomes containing the vapA mutant did not fuse with lysosomes and did not stain with the acidotropic fluor LysoTracker similar to those containing virulent wild-type R. equi. However, vapA mutant phagosomes had a lower average pH. Late in infection, phagosomes containing the vapA mutant were as frequently positive for LysoTracker as phagosomes containing plasmid-cured, avirulent bacteria, whereas those with virulent wild-type R. equi were still negative for the fluor. Macrophage necrosis after prolonged infection with virulent bacteria was accompanied by a loss of organelle staining with LysoTracker, suggesting that lysosome proton gradients had collapsed. The vapA mutant still killed the macrophages and yet did not affect the pH of host cell lysosomes. Hence, VapA is not required for host cell necrosis but is required for neutralization of phagosomes and lysosomes or their disruption. This is the first report of an R. equi mutant with altered phagosome biogenesis.

PMID:
19797071
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2786453
Free PMC Article
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