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Mol Membr Biol. 1998 Jul-Sep;15(3):103-21.

Reprogramming the phagocytic pathway--intracellular pathogens and their vacuoles (review).

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Department of Microbiology, Biocentre of the University, W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Phagocytic immune cells (particularly macrophages and neutrophils) take up and digest particles that have invaded our bodies. In doing so, they represent a very early line of defence against a microbial attack. During uptake, the particles are wrapped by a portion of the phagocyte's plasma membrane, and a new endocytic compartment, the phagosome, is formed. The typical fate of a phagosome is its fusion with lysosomes to yield a phagolysosome in which the particle is digested. Recent data show that some 'intracellular microorganisms' that can cause severe illnesses (tuberculosis, leprosy, legionnaire's disease and others) manage to reprogramme the host phagocytes not to deliver them to the lysosomal compartment. This probably results in increased survival of the pathogens. The analysis of the composition of such 'novel' compartments and research on the molecular mechanisms underlying the microbial interference with host cell functions are likely to yield important insights into: (1) which endocytic/phagocytic compartments phagocytes employ to handle ingested material in general; (2) how some pathogenic microorganisms can reprogramme the phagocytic pathway; and possibly (3) how infections caused by these microorganisms can be treated more effectively. Here, some studies are presented analysing which compartments intracellular pathogens inhabit and how microbes might be able to reprogramme their host cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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