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Infect Immun. 1995 Nov;63(11):4231-7.

The two distinct phospholipases C of Listeria monocytogenes have overlapping roles in escape from a vacuole and cell-to-cell spread.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6076, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes secretes two distinct phospholipases C, a phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) and a broad-range phospholipase C (PC-PLC). In this study, single in-frame deletion mutants with mutations in each PLC and a double mutant lacking both PLCs were characterized with regard to virulence in mice, escape from a primary vacuole, and cell-to-cell spread in cell culture. The mutant lacking PI-PLC, previously shown to be twofold less virulent than the wild type in mice, had a minor defect in escape from a primary vacuole but was not notably affected in cell-to-cell spread. The mutant lacking PC-PLC was 20-fold less virulent in mice and was defective in cell-to-cell spread but had no measurable defect in escape from a primary vacuole. The mutant lacking both PLCs was 500-fold less virulent in mice and was severely diminished in its ability to escape from the primary vacuole and to spread cell to cell. Cellular levels of diacylglycerol and ceramide, products of PLC activity, accumulated beginning 3 to 4 h after infection of cells with wild-type bacteria. The bacterial PLCs were partially responsible for this activity, since cells infected with the mutant lacking both PLCs had a reduced increase in diacylglycerol and no increase in ceramide. Elevation of diacylglycerol in the absence of bacterial PLCs indicated that host cell phospholipase(s) was activated during infection. The results of this study were consistent with the two bacterial PLCs having overlapping functions throughout the course of intracellular infection. Furthermore, the PC-PLC, and possibly PI-PLC, appeared to be enzymatically active intracellularly.

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