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Cell Microbiol. 2016 Apr;18(4):514-35. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12527. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

Intracellular replication of Staphylococcus aureus in mature phagolysosomes in macrophages precedes host cell death, and bacterial escape and dissemination.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C1.
Centre for Human Immunology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C1.


The success of Staphylococcus aureus as a pathogen is partly attributable to its ability to thwart host innate immune responses, which includes resisting the antimicrobial functions of phagocytes. Here, we have studied the interaction of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strain USA300 with murine RAW 264.7 and primary human macrophages using molecular imaging and single cell analysis to obtain an unprecedented understanding of the interaction between the macrophage and MRSA. Herein we demonstrate that macrophages fail to control intracellular infection by MRSA USA300 despite trafficking the bacteria into mature phagolysosomes. Using fluorescence-based proliferation assays we also show that intracellular staphylococci proliferate and that replication commences while the bacteria are residing in mature phagolysosomes hours after initial phagocytosis. Finally, live-cell fluorescence video microscopy allowed for unprecedented visual insight into the escape of MRSA from macrophages, demonstrating that the macrophages die through a pathway characterized by membrane blebbing and activation of caspase-3 followed by acquisition of the vital dye propidium iodide. Moreover, cell death precedes the emergence of MRSA from infected macrophages, and these events can be ablated by prolonged exposure of infected phagocytes to gentamicin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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