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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2007 Feb;292(2):C945-52. Epub 2006 Oct 4.

High-throughput assays of phagocytosis, phagosome maturation, and bacterial invasion.

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Program in Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 Univ. Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada.


Ingestion of foreign particles by macrophages and neutrophils and the fate of the vacuole that contains the ingested material are generally monitored by optical microscopy. Invasion of host cells by pathogenic bacteria and their intracellular proliferation are similarly studied by microscopy or by plating assays. These labor-intensive and time-consuming methods limit the number of assays that can be performed. The effort required to test multiple reagents or conditions can be prohibitive. We describe high-throughput assays of phagocytosis and of phagosomal maturation. An automated fluorescence microscope-based platform and associated analysis software were used to study Fcgamma receptor-mediated phagocytosis of IgG-opsonized particles by cultured murine macrophages. Phagosomal acidification was measured as an index of maturation. The same platform was similarly used to implement high-throughput assays of invasion of mammalian cells by pathogenic bacteria. The invasion of HeLa cells by Salmonella and the subsequent intracellular proliferation of the bacteria were measured rapidly and reliably in large populations of cells. These high-throughput methods are ideally suited for the efficient screening of chemical libraries to select potential drugs and of small interference RNA libraries to identify essential molecules involved in critical steps of the immune response.

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