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Cell Microbiol. 2003 Nov;5(11):809-20.

Obligatory intracellular parasitism by Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum involves caveolae and glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteins.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, The Ohio State University, 1925 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Obligatory intracellular, human ehrlichiosis agents Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum create unique replicative compartments devoid of lysosomal markers in monocytes/macrophages and granulocytes respectively. The entry of these bacteria requires host phospholipase C (PLC)-gamma2 and protein tyrosine kinases, but their entry route is still unclear. Here, using specific inhibitors, double immunofluorescence labelling and the fractionation of lipid rafts, we demonstrate that bacterial entry and intracellular infection involve cholesterol-rich lipid rafts or caveolae and glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins. By fluorescence microscopy, caveolar marker protein caveolin-1 was co-localized with both early and replicative bacterial inclusions. Additionally, tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins and PLC-gamma2 were found in bacterial early inclusions. In contrast, clathrin was not found in any inclusions from either bacterium. An early endosomal marker, transferrin receptor, was not present in the early inclusions of E. chaffeensis, but was found in replicative inclusions of E. chaffeensis. Furthermore, several bacterial proteins from E. chaffeensis and A. phagocytophilum were co-fractionated with Triton X-100-insoluble raft fractions. The formation of bacteria-encapsulating caveolae, which assemble and retain signalling molecules essential for bacterial entry and interact with the recycling endosome pathway, may ensure the survival of these obligatory intracellular bacteria in primary host defensive cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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