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1.  Effect of recombinant human gamma interferon on intracellular activities of antibiotics against Listeria monocytogenes in the human macrophage cell line THP-1. 
Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen which enters cells by endocytosis and reaches phagolysosomes from where it escapes and multiplies in the cytosol of untreated cells. Exposure of macrophages to gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) restricts L. monocytogenes to phagosomes and prevents its intracellular multiplication. We have tested whether IFN-gamma also modulates the susceptibility of L. monocytogenes to antibiotics. We selected drugs from three different classes displaying marked properties concerning their cellular accumulation and subcellular distribution, namely, ampicillin (not accumulated by cells but present in cytosol), azithromycin (largely accumulated by cells but mostly restricted to lysosomes), and sparfloxacin (accumulated to a fair extent but detected only in cytosol). We used a continuous line of myelomonocytic cells (THP-1 macrophages), which display specific surface receptors for IFN-gamma, and examined the activity of these antibiotics against L. monocytogenes Hly+ (virulent variant) and L. monocytogenes Hly- (a nonvirulent variant defective in hemolysin production). Untreated THP-1 and phorbol myristate acetate-differentiated THP-1 were permissive for infection and multiplication of intracellular L. monocytogenes Hly+ (virulent variant). All three antibiotics tested were bactericidal against this Listeria strain when added to an extracellular concentration of 10x their MIC. After preexposure of THP-1 to IFN-gamma, L. monocytogenes Hly+ was still phagocytosed but no longer grew intracellularly. The activity of ampicillin became almost undetectable (antagonistic effect), and that of azithromycin was unchanged (additive effect with that of IFN-gamma), whereas that of sparfloxacin was markedly enhanced (synergy). A similar behavior (lack of bacterial growth, associated with a loss of activity of ampicillin, an enhanced activity of sparfloxacin, and unchanged activity of azithromycin) was observed in cells infected with L. monocytogenes Hly-. This modulation of antibiotic activity, which we ascribe to the change of subcellular localization of L. monocytogenes caused by IFN-gamma or by the lack of virulence factor, could result from a change in bacterial responsiveness to antibiotics, a modification of the drug activity, or differences in drug bioavailabilities between cytosol and phagosomes.
PMCID: PMC163296  PMID: 8723471
2.  Intracellular killing of Listeria monocytogenes in the J774.1 macrophage-like cell line and the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-resistant mutant LPS1916 cell line defective in the generation of reactive oxygen intermediates after LPS treatment. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(5):1876-1886.
Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen and survives within phagocytic cells by escaping from phagosomes into the cytoplasm. It has been reported that, in vivo, L. monocytogenes is effectively eliminated through cell-mediated immunity, especially by macrophages which have been immunologically activated by cytokines such as gamma interferon (IFN-gamma). However, this killing mechanism for L. monocytogenes and the role of macrophage activation in this bacterial killing are unclear. We demonstrated the listericidal effect of oxidative radicals induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and IFN-gamma, using a macrophage-like cell line, J774.1, and a mutant cell line, LPS1916. LPS1916 cells do not exhibit normal generation of O2- and H2O2 after treatment with 0.1 microgram of LPS per ml, although J774.1 cells generate 100 times the normal level of oxidative radicals with the same LPS treatment. The growth of L. monocytogenes was strongly inhibited in J774.1 cells pretreated with 0.1 microgram of LPS per ml or the combination of 0.1 microgram of LPS per ml and 10 U of IFN-gamma per ml. On the other hand, in LPS1916 cells, the growth of L. monocytogenes was not inhibited by treatment with LPS only, although LPS1916 cells pretreated with the combination of LPS and IFN-gamma showed moderate inhibition of listerial growth. This killing was not influenced by treatment with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, which is a strong inhibitor of nitrite oxide generation. Interestingly, J774.1 cells treated with LPS did not show enhanced intraphagosomal killing of a nonhemolytic strain of avirulent L. monocytogenes that lacks the ability to escape from phagosomes, and this killing was not influenced by treatment with NG-monomethyl-L-arginine either. These results suggest that the reactive oxygen radicals are more important than nitric oxide in the mechanism underlying the intracellular killing of virulent L. monocytogenes and that there seem to be different killing mechanisms for virulent and avirulent strains of L. monocytogenes in activated-macrophage cell lines.
PMCID: PMC173238  PMID: 7729897
3.  GILT is a critical host factor for Listeria monocytogenes infection 
Nature  2008;455(7217):1244-1247.
Listeria monocytogenes is a gram positive, intracellular, food-borne pathogen that can cause severe illness in humans and animals. Upon infection, it is actively phagocytosed by macrophages1. It then escapes from the phagosome, replicates in the cytosol, and subsequently spreads from cell to cell by a non-lytic mechanism driven by actin polymerization2. Penetration of the phagosomal membrane is initiated by the secreted hemolysin listeriolysin O (LLO), which is essential for vacuolar escape in vitro and for virulence in animal models of infection3. Reduction is required to activate the lytic activity of LLO in vitro 4–6, and we show here that reduction by the enzyme Gamma-interferon Inducible Lysosomal Thiolreductase (GILT) is responsible for the activation of LLO in vivo. GILT is a soluble thiol reductase expressed constitutively within the lysosomes of antigen presenting cells7, 8, and it accumulates in macrophage phagosomes as they mature into phagolysosomes9. The enzyme is delivered by a mannose-6-phosphate receptor-dependent mechanism to the endocytic pathway, where N- and C-terminal pro-peptides are cleaved to generate a 30 kDa mature enzyme7, 8, 10. The active site of GILT contains two cysteine residues in a CXXC motif that catalyzes the reduction of disulfide bonds7, 8. Mice lacking GILT are deficient in generating MHC class II-restricted CD4+ T cell responses to protein antigens that contain disulfide bonds11, 12. Here we show that these mice are resistant to L. monocytogenes infection. Replication of the organism in GILT-negative macrophages, or macrophages expressing an enzymatically inactive GILT mutant, is impaired because of delayed escape from the phagosome. GILT activates LLO within the phagosome by the classical thiol reductase mechanism shared by members of the thioredoxin family. In addition, purified GILT activates recombinant LLO, facilitating membrane permeabilization and red blood cell lysis. The data show GILT is a critical host factor that facilitates L. monocytogenes infection.
PMCID: PMC2775488  PMID: 18815593
4.  Cytolysin-Dependent Escape of the Bacterium from the Phagosome Is Required but Not Sufficient for Induction of the Th1 Immune Response against Listeria monocytogenes Infection: Distinct Role of Listeriolysin O Determined by Cytolysin Gene Replacement▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(8):3791-3801.
Listeria monocytogenes evades the antimicrobial mechanisms of macrophages by escaping from the phagosome into the cytosolic space via a unique cytolysin that targets the phagosomal membrane, listeriolysin O (LLO), encoded by hly. Gamma interferon (IFN-γ), which is known to play a pivotal role in the induction of Th1-dependent protective immunity in mice, appears to be produced, depending on the bacterial virulence factor. To determine whether the LLO molecule (the major virulence factor of L. monocytogenes) is indispensable or the escape of bacteria from the phagosome is sufficient to induce IFN-γ production, we first constructed an hly-deleted mutant of L. monocytogenes and then established isogenic L. monocytogenes mutants expressing LLO or ivanolysin O (ILO), encoded by ilo from Listeria ivanovii. LLO-expressing L. monocytogenes was highly capable of inducing IFN-γ production and Listeria-specific protective immunity, while the hly-deleted mutant was not. In contrast, the level of IFN-γ induced by ILO-expressing L. monocytogenes was significantly lower both in vitro and in vivo, despite the ability of this strain to escape the phagosome and the intracellular multiplication at a level equivalent to that of LLO-expressing L. monocytogenes. Only a negligible level of protective immunity was induced in mice against challenge with LLO- and ILO-expressing L. monocytogenes. These results clearly show that escape of the bacterium from the phagosome is a prerequisite but is not sufficient for the IFN-γ-dependent Th1 response against L. monocytogenes, and some distinct molecular nature of LLO is indispensable for the final induction of IFN-γ that is essentially required to generate a Th1-dependent immune response.
PMCID: PMC1951982  PMID: 17517863
5.  Effect of Acid Adaptation on the Fate of Listeria monocytogenes in THP-1 Human Macrophages Activated by Gamma Interferon  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(8):4369-4378.
In Listeria monocytogenes the acid tolerance response (ATR) takes place through a programmed molecular response which ensures cell survival under unfavorable conditions. Much evidence links ATR with virulence, but the molecular determinants involved in the reactivity to low pHs and the behavior of acid-exposed bacteria within host cells are still poorly understood. We have investigated the effect of acid adaptation on the fate of L. monocytogenes in human macrophages. Expression of genes encoding determinants for cell invasion and intracellular survival was tested for acid-exposed bacteria, and invasive behavior in the human myelomonocytic cell line THP-1 activated with gamma interferon was assessed. Functional approaches demonstrated that preexposure to an acidic pH enhances the survival of L. monocytogenes in activated human macrophages and that this effect is associated with an altered pattern of expression of genes involved in acid resistance and cell invasion. Significantly decreased transcription of the plcA gene, encoding a phospholipase C involved in vacuolar escape and cell-to-cell spread, was observed in acid-adapted bacteria. This effect was due to a reduction in the quantity of the bicistronic plcA-prfA transcript, concomitant with an increase in the level(s) of the monocistronic prfA mRNA(s). The transcriptional shift from distal to proximal prfA promoters resulted in equal levels of the prfA transcript (and, as a consequence, of the inlA, hly, and actA transcripts) under neutral and acidic conditions. In contrast, the sodC and gad genes, encoding a cytoplasmic superoxide dismutase and the glutamate-based acid resistance system, respectively, were positively regulated at a low pH. Morphological approaches confirmed the increased intracellular survival and growth of acid-adapted L. monocytogenes cells both in vacuoles and in the cytoplasm of interferon gamma-activated THP-1 macrophages. Our data indicate that preexposure to a low pH has a positive impact on subsequent challenge of L. monocytogenes with macrophagic cells.
PMCID: PMC128136  PMID: 12117947
6.  Comparative Intracellular (THP-1 Macrophage) and Extracellular Activities of β-Lactams, Azithromycin, Gentamicin, and Fluoroquinolones against Listeria monocytogenes at Clinically Relevant Concentrations 
The activities of ampicillin, meropenem, azithromycin, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, and moxifloxacin against intracellular hemolysin-positive Listeria monocytogenes were measured in human THP-1 macrophages and were compared with the extracellular activities observed in broth. All extracellular concentrations were adjusted to explore ranges that are clinically achievable in human serum upon conventional therapy. In broth, ampicillin, meropenem, and azithromycin were only bacteriostatic, whereas gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, and moxifloxacin were strongly bactericidal in a concentration-dependent manner. In cells, ampicillin, meropenem, azithromycin, and ciprofloxacin were slightly bactericidal (0.3- to 0.8-log CFU reductions), moxifloxacin was strongly bactericidal (2.1-log CFU reduction), and gentamicin was virtually inactive. The difference in the efficacies of moxifloxacin and ciprofloxacin in cells did not result from a difference in levels of accumulation in cells (6.96 ± 1.05 versus 7.75 ± 1.03) and was only partially explainable by the difference in the MICs (0.58 ± 0.04 versus 1.40 ± 0.17 mg/liter). Further analysis showed that intracellular moxifloxacin expressed only approximately 1/7 of the activity demonstrated against extracellular bacteria and ciprofloxacin expressed only 1/15 of the activity demonstrated against extracellular bacteria. Gentamicin did not increase the intracellular activities of the other antibiotics tested. The data suggest (i) that moxifloxacin could be of potential interest for eradication of the intracellular forms of L. monocytogenes, (ii) that the cellular accumulation of an antibiotic is not the only determinant of its intracellular activity (for fluoroquinolones, it is actually a self-defeating process as far as activity is concerned), and (iii) that pharmacodynamics (activity-to-concentration relationships) need to be considered for the establishment of efficacy against intracellular bacteria, just as they are for the establishment of efficacy against extracellular infections.
PMCID: PMC127291  PMID: 12069960
7.  Alteration of pulmonary immunity to Listeria monocytogenes by diesel exhaust particles (DEPs). II. Effects of DEPs on T-cell-mediated immune responses in rats. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(4):524-530.
Previously, we showed that diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) suppressed pulmonary clearance of Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) and inhibited the phagocytosis of alveolar macrophages and their response to Listeria in the secretion of interleukin (IL)-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-12. In this report we examined the effects of DEPs and/or Listeria on T-cell development and secretion of IL-2, IL-6, and interferon (IFN)-gamma. We exposed Brown Norway rats to clean air or DEPs at 50 or 100 mg/m3 for 4 hr by nose-only inhalation and inoculated with 100,000 Listeria. Lymphocytes in the lung-draining lymph nodes were isolated at 3 and 7 days postexposure, analyzed for CD4+ and CD8+ cells, and measured for cytokine production in response to concanavalin A or heat-killed L. monocytogenes. Listeria infection induced lymphocyte production of IL-6. At 7 days postinfection, lymphocytes from Listeria-infected rats showed significant increases in CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts and the CD8+/CD4+ ratio and exhibited increased production of IFN-gamma and IL-2 receptor expression compared with the noninfected control. These results suggest an immune response that involves the action of IL-6 on T-cell activation, yielding Listeria-specific CD8+ cells. DEP exposure alone enhanced lymphocyte production of both IL-2 and IL-6 but inhibited lymphocyte secretion of IFN-gamma. In rats exposed to 100 mg/m3 DEPs and Listeria, a 10-fold increase occurred in pulmonary bacterial count at 3 days postinfection when compared with the Listeria-only exposure group. The isolated lymphocytes showed a significant increase in the CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts and the CD8+/CD4+ ratio and exhibited increased IL-2 responsiveness and increased capacity in the secretion of IL-2, IL-6, and IFN-gamma. This T-cell immune response was sufficient to allow the Brown Norway rats to clear the bacteria at 7 days postinfection and overcome the down-regulation of the innate immunity by the acute DEP exposure.
PMCID: PMC1241439  PMID: 12676610
8.  Measuring Bacterial Load and Immune Responses in Mice Infected with Listeria monocytogenes 
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a Gram-positive facultative intracellular pathogen1. Mouse studies typically employ intravenous injection of Listeria, which results in systemic infection2. After injection, Listeria quickly disseminates to the spleen and liver due to uptake by CD8α+ dendritic cells and Kupffer cells3,4. Once phagocytosed, various bacterial proteins enable Listeria to escape the phagosome, survive within the cytosol, and infect neighboring cells5. During the first three days of infection, different innate immune cells (e.g. monocytes, neutrophils, NK cells, dendritic cells) mediate bactericidal mechanisms that minimize Listeria proliferation. CD8+ T cells are subsequently recruited and responsible for the eventual clearance of Listeria from the host, typically within 10 days of infection6.
Successful clearance of Listeria from infected mice depends on the appropriate onset of host immune responses6 . There is a broad range of sensitivities amongst inbred mouse strains7,8. Generally, mice with increased susceptibility to Listeria infection are less able to control bacterial proliferation, demonstrating increased bacterial load and/or delayed clearance compared to resistant mice. Genetic studies, including linkage analyses and knockout mouse strains, have identified various genes for which sequence variation affects host responses to Listeria infection6,8-14. Determination and comparison of infection kinetics between different mouse strains is therefore an important method for identifying host genetic factors that contribute to immune responses against Listeria. Comparison of host responses to different Listeria strains is also an effective way to identify bacterial virulence factors that may serve as potential targets for antibiotic therapy or vaccine design.
We describe here a straightforward method for measuring bacterial load (colony forming units [CFU] per tissue) and preparing single-cell suspensions of the liver and spleen for FACS analysis of immune responses in Listeria-infected mice. This method is particularly useful for initial characterization of Listeria infection in novel mouse strains, as well as comparison of immune responses between different mouse strains infected with Listeria. We use the Listeria monocytogenes EGD strain15 that, when cultured on blood agar, exhibits a characteristic halo zone around each colony due to β-hemolysis1 (Figure 1). Bacterial load and immune responses can be determined at any time-point after infection by culturing tissue homogenate on blood agar plates and preparing tissue cell suspensions for FACS analysis using the protocols described below. We would note that individuals who are immunocompromised or pregnant should not handle Listeria, and the relevant institutional biosafety committee and animal facility management should be consulted before work commences.
PMCID: PMC3211132  PMID: 21860372
9.  Bacterial Ligands Generated in a Phagosome Are Targets of the Cytosolic Innate Immune System 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(3):e51.
Macrophages are permissive hosts to intracellular pathogens, but upon activation become microbiocidal effectors of innate and cell-mediated immunity. How the fate of internalized microorganisms is monitored by macrophages, and how that information is integrated to stimulate specific immune responses is not understood. Activation of macrophages with interferon (IFN)–γ leads to rapid killing and degradation of Listeria monocytogenes in a phagosome, thus preventing escape of bacteria to the cytosol. Here, we show that activated macrophages induce a specific gene expression program to L. monocytogenes degraded in the phago-lysosome. In addition to activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathways, degraded bacteria also activated a TLR-independent transcriptional response that was similar to the response induced by cytosolic L. monocytogenes. More specifically, degraded bacteria induced a TLR-independent IFN-β response that was previously shown to be specific to cytosolic bacteria and not to intact bacteria localized to the phagosome. This response required the generation of bacterial ligands in the phago-lysosome and was largely dependent on nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 2 (NOD2), a cytosolic receptor known to respond to bacterial peptidoglycan fragments. The NOD2-dependent response to degraded bacteria required the phagosomal membrane potential and the activity of lysosomal proteases. The NOD2-dependent IFN-β production resulted from synergism with other cytosolic microbial sensors. This study supports the hypothesis that in activated macrophages, cytosolic innate immune receptors are activated by bacterial ligands generated in the phagosome and transported to the cytosol.
Author Summary
Innate immune recognition of microorganisms has a direct impact on the type and the magnitude of the immune response elicited. While recognition of microorganisms relies on receptors that sense pathogen-associated molecular patterns, (PAMPs), it was reasonable to suspect that immune cells could discriminate between live and dead bacteria. Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular pathogenic bacterium used extensively as a model system for studying basic aspects of innate and acquired immunity. L. monocytogenes is internalized by macrophages, escapes from a vacuole, multiplies within the cytosol, and spreads from cell to cell without lysing the cells. We used wild-type and bacterial mutants of L. monocytogenes to demonstrate that macrophages not only respond differently to bacteria that are growing in the cytosol and to non-growing bacteria that are trapped in a vacuole, but that they also can discriminate between intact or degraded bacteria in the vacuole. We showed that macrophages induce specific immune response when bacteria are killed and degraded. This response was directly correlated to the ability of macrophages to degrade bacteria and involved receptors that were located in the host cell cytosol. These observations led us to suggest that bacterial degradation products may serve as messengers that inform immune cells that bacteria were killed and degraded. This information might affect directly the immune response, for example, by down-regulating inflammatory responses that can be deleterious. We call these bacterial degradation products PAMP-PM (PAMP–post-mortem).
PMCID: PMC1839167  PMID: 17397264
10.  Mouse macrophages stimulated by recombinant gamma interferon to kill tumor cells are not bactericidal for the facultative intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. 
Infection and Immunity  1988;56(5):1371-1375.
Data presented here demonstrate that recombinant gamma interferon (rIFN-gamma) activated a single population of 10% fetal calf serum-elicited mouse peritoneal exudate cells to express tumoricidal activity but not bactericidal activity for the facultative intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Fetal calf serum-elicited cells incubated with rIFN-gamma phagocytosed listeriae normally, suggesting that their inability to kill this bacterium is not because they cannot phagocytose it. Data also show that proteose peptone-elicited peritoneal exudate cells, which are bactericidal but not tumoricidal, acquired tumoricidal activity but lost bactericidal activity following incubation overnight with rIFN-gamma. These experiments show that under conditions sufficient for rIFN-gamma to induce macrophages to express tumoricidal activity, the same cell population does not express bactericidal activity for the facultative intracellular bacterium L. monocytogenes. This suggests that mechanisms responsible for these two biological activities may be different.
PMCID: PMC259835  PMID: 3128484
11.  Class II MHC molecules are present in macrophage lysosomes and phagolysosomes that function in the phagocytic processing of Listeria monocytogenes for presentation to T cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1992;119(3):531-542.
Phagocytic processing of heat-killed Listeria monocytogenes by peritoneal macrophages resulted in degradation of these bacteria in phagolysosomal compartments and processing of bacterial antigens for presentation to T cells by class II MHC molecules. Within 20 min of uptake by macrophages, Listeria peptide antigens were expressed on surface class II MHC molecules, capable of stimulating Listeria- specific T cells. Within this period, degradation of labeled bacteria to acid-soluble low molecular weight catabolites also commenced. Immunoelectron microscopy was used to evaluate the compartments involved in this processing. Upon uptake of the bacteria, phagosomes containing Listeria fused rapidly with both lysosomes and endosomes. Class II MHC molecules were present in a tubulo-vesicular lysosome compartment, which appeared to fuse with phagosomes, as well as in the resulting phagolysosomes containing internalized Listeria; these compartments were all positive for Lamp 1 and cathepsin D and lacked 46- kD mannose-6-phosphate receptors. In addition, class II MHC and Lamp 1 were co-localized in vesicles of the trans Golgi reticulum, where they were segregated from 46-kD mannose-6-phosphate receptors. Vesicles containing both Listeria-derived components and class II MHC molecules were also observed; some of these may represent vesicles recycling from phagolysosomes, potentially bearing processed immunogenic peptides complexed with class II MHC. These results support a central role for lysosomes and phagolysosomes in the processing of bacterial antigens for presentation to T cells. Tubulo-vesicular lysosomes appear to represent an important convergence of endocytic, phagocytic and biosynthetic pathways, where antigens may be processed to allow binding to class II MHC molecules and recycling to the cell surface.
PMCID: PMC2289672  PMID: 1400590
12.  Actin filaments and the growth, movement, and spread of the intracellular bacterial parasite, Listeria monocytogenes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1989;109(4):1597-1608.
Listeria monocytogenes was used as a model intracellular parasite to study stages in the entry, growth, movement, and spread of bacteria in a macrophage cell line. The first step in infection is phagocytosis of the Listeria, followed by the dissolution of the membrane surrounding the phagosome presumably mediated by hemolysin secreted by Listeria as nonhemolytic mutants remain in intact vacuoles. Within 2 h after infection, each now cytoplasmic Listeria becomes encapsulated by actin filaments, identified as such by decoration of the actin filaments with subfragment 1 of myosin. These filaments are very short. The Listeria grow and divide and the actin filaments rearrange to form a long tail (often 5 microns in length) extending from only one end of the bacterium, a "comet's tail," in which the actin filaments appear randomly oriented. The Listeria "comet" moves to the cell surface with its tail oriented towards the cell center and becomes incorporated into a cell extension with the Listeria at the tip of the process and its tail trailing into the cytoplasm behind it. This extension contacts a neighboring macrophage that phagocytoses the extension of the first macrophage. Thus, within the cytoplasm of the second macrophage is a Listeria with its actin tail surrounded by a membrane that in turn is surrounded by the phagosome membrane of the new host. Both these membranes are then solubilized by the Listeria and the cycle is repeated. Thus, once inside a host cell, the infecting Listeria and their progeny can spread from cell to cell by remaining intracellular and thus bypass the humoral immune system of the organism. To establish if actin filaments are essential for the spread of Listeria from cell to cell, we treated infected macrophages with cytochalasin D. The Listeria not only failed to spread, but most were found deep within the cytoplasm, rather than near the periphery of the cell. Thin sections revealed that the net of actin filaments is not formed nor is a "comet" tail produced.
PMCID: PMC2115783  PMID: 2507553
13.  Fatty Acids Regulate Stress Resistance and Virulence Factor Production for Listeria monocytogenes 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(19):5274-5284.
Fatty acids (FAs) are the major structural component of cellular membranes, which provide a physical and chemical barrier that insulates intracellular reactions from environmental fluctuations. The native composition of membrane FAs establishes the topological and chemical parameters for membrane-associated functions and is therefore modulated diligently by microorganisms especially in response to environmental stresses. However, the consequences of altered FA composition during host-pathogen interactions are poorly understood. The food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes contains mostly saturated branched-chain FAs (BCFAs), which support growth at low pH and low temperature. In this study, we show that anteiso-BCFAs enhance bacterial resistance against phagosomal killing in macrophages. Specifically, BCFAs protect against antimicrobial peptides and peptidoglycan hydrolases, two classes of phagosome antimicrobial defense mechanisms. In addition, the production of the critical virulence factor, listeriolysin O, was compromised by FA modulation, suggesting that FAs play a key role in virulence regulation. In summary, our results emphasize the significance of FA metabolism, not only in bacterial virulence regulation but also in membrane barrier function by providing resistance against host antimicrobial stress.
PMCID: PMC3457240  PMID: 22843841
14.  The ability of Listeria monocytogenes PI-PLC to facilitate escape from the macrophage phagosome is dependent on host PKCβ 
Microbial pathogenesis  2008;46(1):1-5.
Listeria monocytogenes are facultative intracellular pathogenic bacteria that can infect macrophages as well as non-professional phagocytes. After entry in the host cell, the bacteria escape from the phagosome into the cytoplasm. In murine macrophages and in cell lines derived from these cells, escape of L. monocytogenes from the phagosome is absolutely dependent on listeriolysin O (LLO) and facilitated by a secreted phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) Work in this laboratory has previously demonstrated a LLO and PI-PLC-dependent translocation of host PKCβ isoforms. Pharmacological inhibition of PKCβ resulted in a significant reduction in permeabilization of the phagosome, and in the number of bacteria reaching the cytosol. These findings led to the prediction that the bacterial PI-PLC promotes escape through the production of diacylglycerol leading to the activation of host PKCβ. To test this hypothesis, bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMφ) obtained from PKCβ knockout (PKCβKO) or C57Bl/6 mice were infected with L. monocytogenes. We observed that wild type L. monocytogenes escapes from the phagosome of PKCβKO BMMφ as well as they do from C57Bl/6 BMMφ. However, in PKCβKO BMMφ, L. monocytogenes uses a PI-PLC-independent, but phosphatidylcholine-preferring PLC (PC-PLC)-dependent pathway to facilitate escape. These findings strongly support the hypothesis that PI-PLC promotes escape through mobilization of host PKCβ
PMCID: PMC2655198  PMID: 18996181
Listeria monocytogenes; PKCβ; PI-PLC; listeriolysin O; PC-PLC; knockout
15.  Fate of Listeria monocytogenes in murine macrophages: evidence for simultaneous killing and survival of intracellular bacteria. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(2):543-553.
The intracellular survival of the ubiquitous pathogen Listeria monocytogenes was studied in primary cultures of bone marrow-derived mouse macrophages. Bacteria were able to grow rapidly in these cells, with an apparent multiplication rate of about 40 min. Electron microscopy demonstrated that intracellular bacterial replication was the consequence of simultaneous intracellular killing and replication of bacteria in the same cells. Within the first hour following phagocytosis, most bacteria were destroyed in the phagosomal compartment to which they were confined. This was due to early transfer of hydrolytic enzymes to phagosomes, undoubtedly via phagosome-lysosome (P-L) fusion, as demonstrated by a quantitative analysis after staining for a lysosomal marker, acid phosphatase. One hour after infection, about 14% of the bacteria were free in the cytoplasm, in which they multiplied and induced actin polymerization and spreading to adjacent macrophages, as in epithelial cells. By using the 3-(2,4-dinitroanilino)-3'-amino-N-methyldipropylamine staining procedure, direct evidence is presented that all phagosomes were acidified immediately after phagocytosis, thus indicating that intraphagosomal bacteria were exposed to an acidic environment that might favor vacuolar lysis by listeriolysin O. Intracellular growth in macrophages, therefore, appears to be the result of a competition between the expression of the hydrolytic activity of these cells following P-L fusion and the capacity of L. monocytogenes to escape from the acidified phagosomal compartment before P-L fusion has occurred. The finding that concomitant intracellular killing and survival of L. monocytogenes occurs in the same macrophages might explain the high immunogenicity observed in vivo with live bacteria, as opposed to killed bacteria.
PMCID: PMC186140  PMID: 8300212
16.  Inhibition of Calpain Blocks the Phagosomal Escape of Listeria monocytogenes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35936.
Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive facultative intracellular bacterium responsible for the food borne infection listeriosis, affecting principally the immunocompromised, the old, neonates and pregnant women. Following invasion L. monocytogenes escapes the phagosome and replicates in the cytoplasm. Phagosome escape is central to L. monocytogenes virulence and is required for initiating innate host-defence responses such as the secretion of the cytokine interleukin-1. Phagosome escape of L. monocytogenes is reported to depend upon host proteins such as γ-interferon-inducible lysosomal thiol reductase and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. The host cytosolic cysteine protease calpain is required in the life cycle of numerous pathogens, and previous research reports an activation of calpain by L. monocytogenes infection. Thus we sought to determine whether host calpain was required for the virulence of L. monocytogenes. Treatment of macrophages with calpain inhibitors blocked escape of L. monocytogenes from the phagosome and consequently its proliferation within the cytosol. This was independent of any direct effect on the production of bacterial virulence factors or of a bactericidal effect. Furthermore, the secretion of interleukin-1β, a host cytokine whose secretion induced by L. monocytogenes depends upon phagosome escape, was also blocked by calpain inhibition. These data indicate that L. monocytogenes co-opts host calpain to facilitate its escape from the phagosome, and more generally, that calpain may represent a cellular Achilles heel exploited by pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3338540  PMID: 22563421
17.  Correlation of Increased Metabolic Activity, Resistance to Infection, Enhanced Phagocytosis, and Inhibition of Bacterial Growth by Macrophages from Listeria- and BCG-Infected Mice 
Infection and Immunity  1972;5(4):499-504.
Macrophages from mice infected with facultative intracellular organisms such as Listeria monocytogenes and BCG have been shown to resist infection by antigenically unrelated intracellular bacterial parasites. This study compares phagocytosis, bacterial growth inhibition, and oxidation of glucose by macrophages from normal mice, mice infected with listeria or BCG, or mice immunized with killed listeria in incomplete Freund's adjuvant. Macrophages from listeria- and BCG-infected mice ingested more listeria; 67 and 57%, respectively, had three or more cell-associated bacteria versus 22% of controls (P < 0.001). Peritoneal macrophages from listeria- and BCG-infected animals significantly (P < 0.001 covariance analysis) inhibited growth of listeria in suspension, whereas control macrophages had no such inhibitory effect. The rate of oxidation of glucose-1-14C was higher in macrophages from listeria- and BCG-infected mice than from either uninfected animals or those immunized with killed listeria. During phagocytosis of killed or live bacteria, or latex particles, the rate of glucose oxidation was increased (P < 0.01). These data suggest that the cellular immunity after infection by an intracellular organism is associated with an increase in metabolic activity of macrophages, namely, an increase in the rate of glucose oxidation resulting in enhancement of phagocytosis and killing.
PMCID: PMC422398  PMID: 4629124
18.  Suppression of Cell-Mediated Immunity following Recognition of Phagosome-Confined Bacteria 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(9):e1000568.
Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen capable of inducing a robust cell-mediated immune response to sub-lethal infection. The capacity of L. monocytogenes to escape from the phagosome and enter the host cell cytosol is paramount for the induction of long-lived CD8 T cell–mediated protective immunity. Here, we show that the impaired T cell response to L. monocytogenes confined within a phagosome is not merely a consequence of inefficient antigen presentation, but is the result of direct suppression of the adaptive response. This suppression limited not only the adaptive response to vacuole-confined L. monocytogenes, but negated the response to bacteria within the cytosol. Co-infection with phagosome-confined and cytosolic L. monocytogenes prevented the generation of acquired immunity and limited expansion of antigen-specific T cells relative to the cytosolic L. monocytogenes strain alone. Bacteria confined to a phagosome suppressed the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and led to the rapid MyD88-dependent production of IL-10. Blockade of the IL-10 receptor or the absence of MyD88 during primary infection restored protective immunity. Our studies demonstrate that the presence of microbes within a phagosome can directly impact the innate and adaptive immune response by antagonizing the signaling pathways necessary for inflammation and the generation of protective CD8 T cells.
Author Summary
Little is understood about how the immune system distinguishes between pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes. Limiting or preventing infections by intracellular pathogens requires the activation of innate immunity and the consequent generation of effector and memory T cells, which recognize and kill infected cells. Investigators are currently testing attenuated versions of pathogenic microbes as vaccines in an attempt to generate pathogen-specific T cells without causing disease. Unfortunately, attenuated microbes often fail to elicit long-lived protective immunity. We hypothesized that attenuated bacterial vaccines do not immunize because they fail to activate a stimulatory arm of host innate immune receptors. However, we found that these attenuated bacterial vaccines are not simply prevented from activating immunity, but rather generate a negative signal that inhibits the desired immune response. These studies may explain why the addition of an adjuvant to ineffective vaccines does not necessarily improve immunogenicity. Furthermore, these studies provide a framework for the development of attenuated vaccines that do not inhibit the desired immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2731223  PMID: 19730694
19.  Lack of Expansion of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Ib-Restricted Effector Cells following Recovery from Secondary Infection with the Intracellular Pathogen Listeria monocytogenes 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(4):2286-2292.
Sublethal infection of BALB/c mice with the intracellular bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes leads to the development of antilisterial immunity with concurrent stimulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class Ia- and Ib-restricted CD8+ effector T cells. Secondary L. monocytogenes infection is followed by an accelerated increase in the number of Listeria-specific CD8+ cells and rapid clearance of the bacterium from the murine host. Recovery from secondary infection is associated with increased levels of effector cell function, as measured by gamma interferon secretion following coculture of immune cells with L. monocytogenes infected APCs in vitro, as well as antilisterial cytotoxicity, as measured by effector cell recognition of L. monocytogenes-infected target cells. We assessed the frequency of L. monocytogenes-specific MHC class I-restricted cells following secondary infection by ELISPOT assays utilizing coculture of immune cells with L. monocytogenes-infected antigen-presenting cells that express MHC class Ia and/or Ib molecules. We found that the antilisterial Qa-1b (MHC class Ib)-restricted effector subset is not detected as an expanded population following secondary infection compared to the frequency of this effector population as measured following recovery from primary infection. This is in contrast to the frequency of antilisterial H2-Kd (MHC class Ia)-restricted effector cells, which following recovery from secondary infection are detected as an expanded population, and appears to undergo a substantial expansion event 3 to 4 days post-secondary infection. These results are consistent with the conclusion that although Listeria-specific MHC class Ib-restricted effector cells are present following recovery from secondary infection, this subset does not appear to undergo the expansion phase that is detected for the MHC class Ia-restricted effector cell response.
PMCID: PMC98157  PMID: 11254585
20.  Control of natural killer cell-mediated innate resistance against the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes by gamma/delta T lymphocytes. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(5):1744-1749.
Listeria monocytogenes is an intracellular bacterium which causes an acute infectious disease in mice. Initial host resistance depends on innate immunity mediated primarily by natural killer (NK) cells followed by specific alpha/beta T cells, which are central to acquired specific immunity. Gamma/delta T lymphocytes seem to provide a link between the innate and the specific immune response. All these lymphocyte populations produce gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), which, because of its macrophage-activating potential, is central to antibacterial protection. IFN-gamma from NK cells not only contributes to early host resistance but also promotes development of protective T-cell responses of helper T type 1 (Th1) type. Here, we show that innate resistance and early IFN-gamma production in listeriosis are markedly impaired in T-cell receptor (TCR)-delta-/- but not TCR-beta-/- gene disruption mutant mice. By two-color cytofluorimetry, we demonstrate that NK cells rather than gamma/delta T lymphocytes are the major cellular source of IFN-gamma in immunocompetent mice and that IFN-gamma production by NK cells is impaired in the TCR-delta-/- mutants. Probably, reduced tumor necrosis factor production in listeria-infected TCR-delta-/- mutants contributed to impaired NK cell activation. Our data reveal a novel function of gamma/delta T cells as regulators of innate resistance against sublethal infection with an intracellular pathogen.
PMCID: PMC173987  PMID: 8613386
21.  A nonvirulent mutant of Listeria monocytogenes does not move intracellularly but still induces polymerization of actin. 
Infection and Immunity  1990;58(11):3477-3486.
Listeria monocytogenes has the capacity to penetrate and multiply within professional and nonprofessional phagocytic cells, such as the Caco-2 human enterocytelike cell line. It was shown recently that shortly after listeriae have been phagocytosed, the phagosomal membrane is dissolved, probably by the action of the bacterial cytolysin listeriolysin O. The listeriae, which are then lying obviously free in the cytoplasm, become surrounded by a coat of actin filaments within a few hours. Once formed, this layer of actin filaments is reorganized in an as yet unknown way to form polar tails, which seem to be associated to the generation of listerial movement inside the cytoplasm and in intercellular spread. By using transposon Tn916 mutagenesis, a bank of L. monocytogenes mutants was generated and subsequently screened by the plaque assay system in order to select an intracellular, nonmotile mutant of L. monocytogenes. One such mutant was identified. This mutant, called L. monocytogenes M117 Imt- (for intracellular motility), like the wild type, induced actin polymerization but was not able to rearrange the actin coat to generate movement and as a result remained entrapped within the actin cloud. In a mouse virulence assay, this strain was significantly reduced in virulence. L. monocytogenes M117 is the first example to date of a Listeria mutant which is still hemolytic and invasive but reduced in virulence.
PMCID: PMC313686  PMID: 2172164
22.  Restricted replication of Listeria monocytogenes in a gamma interferon-activated murine hepatocyte line. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(8):3187-3195.
The intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes replicates mainly in resting macrophages and hepatocytes residing in infected tissues. Both innate and acquired resistance strongly depend on activation of listericidal capacities of macrophages by gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) produced by natural killer cells and T lymphocytes. In contrast to macrophages, hepatocytes have been considered to serve purely as a cellular habitat, prolonging survival of the pathogen in the host. By using an immortalized murine hepatocyte line, the relationship between L. monocytogenes and this cell type has been analyzed in more detail. Our data reveal that hepatocytes are able to eradicate listeriolysin-deficient (avirulent) L. monocytogenes but fail to control growth of listeriolysin-expressing (virulent) L. monocytogenes organisms. Following stimulation with IFN-gamma, hepatocytes gained the capacity to restrict growth of virulent L. monocytogenes, although less efficiently than the highly listericidal IFN-gamma-activated macrophages. Hepatocytes costimulated with a combination of IFN-gamma, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) expressed the highest antilisterial activities. Although IFN-gamma-stimulated hepatocytes produced demonstrable levels of reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI), the results of inhibition studies do not support a major role for these molecules in antilisterial hepatocyte activities. In contrast, inhibition of RNI produced by macrophages neutralized their antilisterial effects. IFN-gamma-stimulated, L. monocytogenes-infected hepatocytes expressed TNF-alpha mRNA, suggesting that they are a source of this cytokine during listeriosis. These studies suggest a novel function for hepatocytes in listeriosis: first, IFN-gamma-stimulated hepatocytes could contribute to listerial growth restriction in the liver, and second, through secretion of proinflammatory cytokines, they could promote phagocyte influx to the site of listerial growth.
PMCID: PMC173435  PMID: 7542640
23.  CD44-Regulated Intracellular Proliferation of Listeria monocytogenes  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(7):4102-4111.
CD44 has been implicated in immune and inflammatory processes. We have analyzed the role of CD44 in the outcome of Listeria monocytogenes infection in murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM). Surprisingly, a dramatically decreased intracellular survival of L. monocytogenes was observed in CD44−/− BMM. CD44−/− heart or lung fibroblast cultures also showed reduced bacterial levels. Moreover, livers from CD44−/−-infected mice showed diminished levels of L. monocytogenes. In contrast, intracellular growth of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium was the same in CD44−/− and control BMM. The CD44-mediated increased bacterial proliferation was not linked to altered BMM differentiation or to secretion of soluble factors. CD44 did not mediate listerial uptake, and it played no role in bacterial escape from the primary phagosome or formation of actin tails. Furthermore, CD44-enhanced listerial proliferation occurred in the absence of intracellular bacterial spreading. Interestingly, coincubation of BMM with hyaluronidase or anti-CD44 antibodies that selectively inhibit hyaluronan binding increased intracellular listerial proliferation. Treatment of cells with hyaluronan, in contrast, diminished listerial growth and induced proinflammatory transcript levels. We suggest that L. monocytogenes takes advantage of the CD44-mediated signaling to proliferate intracellularly, although binding of CD44 to certain ligands will inhibit such response.
PMCID: PMC162026  PMID: 12819101
24.  Inducible Control of Virulence Gene Expression in Listeria monocytogenes: Temporal Requirement of Listeriolysin O during Intracellular Infection 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(21):5935-5945.
We have constructed a lac repressor/operator-based system to tightly regulate expression of bacterial genes during intracellular infection by Listeria monocytogenes. An L. monocytogenes strain was constructed in which expression of listeriolysin O was placed under the inducible control of an isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG)-dependent promoter. Listeriolysin O (LLO) is a pore-forming cytolysin that mediates lysis of L. monocytogenes-containing phagosomes. Using hemolytic-activity assays and Western blot analysis, we demonstrated dose-dependent IPTG induction of LLO during growth in broth culture. Moreover, intracellular growth of the inducible-LLO (iLLO) strain in the macrophage-like cell line J774 was strictly dependent upon IPTG. We have further shown that iLLO bacteria trapped within primary phagocytic vacuoles can be induced to escape into the cytosol following addition of IPTG to the cell culture medium, thus yielding the ability to control bacterial escape from the phagosome and the initiation of intracellular growth. Using the iLLO strain in plaque-forming assays, we demonstrated an additional requirement for LLO in facilitating cell-to-cell spread in L2 fibroblasts, a nonprofessional phagocytic cell line. Furthermore, the efficiency of cell-to-cell spread of iLLO bacteria in L2 cells was IPTG dose dependent. The potential use of this system for determining the temporal requirements of additional virulence determinants of intracellular pathogenesis is discussed.
PMCID: PMC135386  PMID: 12374827
25.  In vitro model of penetration and intracellular growth of Listeria monocytogenes in the human enterocyte-like cell line Caco-2. 
Infection and Immunity  1987;55(11):2822-2829.
Penetration and replication of Listeria monocytogenes within intestinal epithelial cells were studied by infecting the human enterocyte-like cell line Caco-2. Entry was due to directed phagocytosis, as suggested by the inhibiting effect of cytochalasin D on bacterial entry and by electron microscopy showing bacteria inside membrane-limiting vacuoles at the early stage of infection. Only bacteria from pathogenic species (L. monocytogenes and Listeria ivanovii) were able to induce their own phagocytosis by Caco-2 cells, as opposed to Listeria seeligeri, Listeria welshimeri, and Listeria innocua. L. monocytogenes multiplied readily within Caco-2 cells, with an apparent generation time of about 90 min. Listeriolysin O was found to be a major factor promoting intracellular growth of L. monocytogenes. After being internalized at the same rate as that of its hemolytic revertant strain, a nonhemolytic mutant from L. monocytogenes failed to replicate significantly within Caco-2 cells. Electron microscopic study demonstrated that bacteria from the nonhemolytic mutant remained inside phagosomes during cellular infection, whereas hemolytic bacteria from L. monocytogenes were released free within the cytoplasm. This indicates that disruption of vacuole membranes by listeriolysin O-producing strains of L. monocytogenes might be a key mechanism allowing bacteria to escape from phagosomes and to multiply unrestricted within cell cytoplasm.
PMCID: PMC259983  PMID: 3117693

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