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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Mar;74(6):1886-91. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02467-07. Epub 2008 Feb 1.

Use of Drosophila S2 cells as a model for studying Ehrlichia chaffeensis infections.

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  • 1Kansas State University, Division of Biology, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


Ehrlichia chaffeensis is an obligate intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis. Although this pathogen grows in several mammalian cell lines, no general model for eukaryotic cellular requirements for bacteria replication has yet been proposed. We found that Drosophila S2 cells are permissive for the growth of E. chaffeensis. We saw morulae (aggregates of bacteria) by microscopy, detected the E. chaffeensis 16S rRNA gene by reverse transcriptase PCR, and used immunocytochemistry to detect E. chaffeensis in S2 and mammalian cells. Bacteria grown in S2 cells reinfected mammalian macrophages. S2 cells were made nonpermissive for E. chaffeensis through incubation with lipopolysaccharide. Our results demonstrate that S2 cells are an appropriate system for studying the pathogenesis of E. chaffeensis. The use of a Drosophila system has the potential to serve as a model system for studying Ehrlichia due to its completed genome, ease of genetic manipulation, and the availability of mutants.

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