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Can J Microbiol. 1998 May;44(5):430-40.

HeLa cells as a model to study the invasiveness and biology of Legionella pneumophila.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.


HeLa cells were established as a model system to study the invasiveness and biology of Legionella pneumophila. In this model, invasion could be distinguished from adherence; virulent strains of L. pneumophila were adherent and invasive, whereas nonvirulent strains were adherent but poorly invasive. Invasion was rapid and did not require de novo bacterial protein synthesis, suggesting that the invasion factor is constitutively expressed by virulent strains. Entry into HeLa cells required actin polymerization and an intact microtubule cytoskeleton and was only moderately inhibited by the presence of 100 mM glucose or galactose. Intracellular replication of virulent L. pneumophila took place in ribosome-studded complex endosomes and led to the formation of free bacteria-laden vesicles presumably released from lysed HeLa cells. These free vesicles (referred to as mature vesicles) were isolated in continuous density gradients of Percoll. The bacteria contained in the isolated mature vesicles had a unique envelope structure and were highly adherent to HeLa cells, characteristics that correlated with a bright red appearance after the Giménez stain (Giménez positive). Plate-grown legionellae and replicating legionellae, harboured in complex endosomes, displayed a typical Gram-negative envelope and stained green after the Giménez stain (Giménez negative). Chronically infected cultures of HeLa cells were also established that may be a useful tool for studying long-term interactions between virulent L. pneumophila and mammalian cells. HeLa cells constitute a valuable model system that offers unique opportunities to study parasite-directed endocytosis, as well as stage specific-parasite interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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