Shortly after Listeria is phagocytosed by a macrophage, it dissolves the phagosomal membrane and enters the cytoplasm. 1 h later, actin filaments coat the Listeria and then become rearranged to form a tail with which the Listeria moves to the macrophage surface as a prelude to spreading. If infected macrophages are treated with cytochalasin D, all the actin filaments associated with the Listeria break down leaving a fine, fibrillar material that does not decorate with subfragment 1 of myosin. This material is associated with either the surface of the Listeria (the cloud stage) or one end (the tail stage). If the cytochalasin-treated infected macrophages are detergent extracted and then incubated in nuclei-free monomeric actin under polymerizing conditions, actin filaments assemble from the fine, fibrillar material, the result being that each Listeria has actin filaments radiating from its surface like the spokes of a wheel (cloud form) or possesses a long tail of actin filaments formed from the fine, fibrillar material located at one end of the Listeria. Evidence that the fine fibrillar material is involved in nucleating actin assembly comes from a Listeria mutant. Although the mutant replicates at a normal rate in macrophages, actin filaments do not form on its surface (cloud stage) or from one end (tail stage), nor does the bacterium spread. Furthermore it does not form the fine fibrillar material. Evidence that the nucleating material is a secretory product of Listeria and not the macrophage comes from experiments using chloramphenicol, which inhibits protein synthesis in Listeria but not in macrophages. If chloramphenicol is applied 1 h after infection, a time before actin filaments are found attached to the Listeria in untreated macrophages, actin filaments never assemble on the Listeria even when fixed 3 h later. Furthermore the fine fibrillar material is absent, although there is a coat of dense granular material.

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