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Cell Microbiol. 2006 Sep;8(9):1456-66.

Intracellular trafficking and replication of Burkholderia cenocepacia in human cystic fibrosis airway epithelial cells.

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Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Disease, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, 48109, USA.


We investigated the trafficking of Burkholderia cenocepacia, an opportunistic respiratory pathogen of persons with cystic fibrosis (CF), in immortalized CF airway epithelial cells in vitro. Our results indicate that bacteria enter cells in a process involving actin rearrangement. Whereas both live and heat-killed bacteria reside transiently in early endosomes, only live bacteria escape from late endosomes to colocalize in vesicles positive for lysosomal membrane marker LAMP1, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane marker calnexin, and autophagosome marker monodansylcadavarine (MDC). Twenty-four hours after infection, microcolonies of live bacteria were observed in the perinuclear area colocalizing with calnexin. In contrast, after ingestion, dead bacteria colocalized with late endosome marker Rab7, and lysosome markers LAMP1 and cathepsin D, but not with calnexin or MDC. Six to eight hours after ingestion of dead bacteria, degraded bacterial particles were observed in the cytoplasm and in vesicles positive for cathepsin D. These results indicate that live B. cenocepacia gain entry into human CF airway cells by endocytosis, escape from late endosomes to enter autophagosomes that fail to fuse with mature lysosomes, and undergo replication in the ER. This survival and replication strategy may contribute to the capacity of B. cenocepacia to persist in the lungs of infected CF patients.

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