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J Infect Dis. 1986 Dec;154(6):952-8.

Acidification of phagosomes in murine macrophages: blockage by Nocardia asteroides.


Most strains of Nocardia asteroides are susceptible to the detrimental effects of pH 5 when grown in buffered brain-heart infusion broth. Preventing phagosomal acidification may be a mechanism by which this organism survives the microbicidal activity of macrophages. Fluorescein isothiocyanate was conjugated to the surface of Nocardia and Saccharomyces to form pH-sensitive fluorescent probes. The fluorescent emission, and thus the pH, of this probe was quantitated within individual phagosomes by using a computerized cytospectrophotometer. When either live or dead cells of virulent N. asteroides strain GUH-2 were ingested, the phagosomal pH remained above pH 7 for 2 hr. A nonpathogenic soil isolate, N. asteroides strain 19247, only partially blocked acidification. In contrast, when Saccharomyces was used as a control for normal response, the pH decreased to approximately pH 5. Therefore, virulent N. asteroides blocks phagosomal acidification. Because killed Nocardia act in the same manner, this inhibition of acidification appears to be associated with cellular components. This capacity to prevent phagosomal acidification may be prerequisite to the survival of intracellular pathogens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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