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Med Microbiol Immunol. 2006 Dec;195(4):185-94. Epub 2006 Apr 5.

Live cell imaging of phagosome maturation in Staphylococcus aureus infected human endothelial cells: small colony variants are able to survive in lysosomes.

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Max von Pettenkofer-Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80336 München, Germany.


Small colony variants (SCVs) of Staphylococcus aureus have been proposed to persist within vascular endothelium, thereby sustaining chronic infections. To identify the intracellular SCV location we infected primary human endothelial cells with various wild type and SCV strains of S. aureus and visualised maturation of phagosomes using live cell imaging. Staphylococci-containing phagosomes were matured by sequential and dynamic interactions with Rab5- and Rab7-positive vesicles. Within 45-60 min all internalised staphylococci accumulated in LAMP-1- and LysoTracker-enriched lysosomal organelles and remained there for up to 5 days. Recovery of most staphyloccocal strains was below 1% after a 24 h intracellular stay, indicating a high bactericidal activity of the endothelial cell lysosomes. However, the menadione auxotroph SCV strain JB1 displayed a recovery rate of 4% and, furthermore, through multiple intracellular passaging a subtype (JB1-P4) with a recovery rate of 25-30% could be generated. Interestingly, both JB1 and JB1-P4 also resided exclusively in lysosomes. Thus, on one hand we document effective bactericidal activity of human endothelial cell lysosomes towards staphylococci, and on the other hand we provide evidence that certain SCVs are capable to withstand this activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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