Previous studies have shown that L. pneumophila multiplies intracellularly in human monocytes and alveolar macrophages within a membrane-bound cytoplasmic vacuole studded with ribosomes. In this paper, the formation of this novel vacuole is examined. After entry into monocytes, L. pneumophila resides in a membrane-bound vacuole. During the first hour after entry, vacuoles containing L. pneumophila are found surrounded by smooth vesicles fusing with or budding off from the vacuolar membrane and by mitochondria closely apposed to the vacuolar membrane. By 4 h, vacuoles are found less frequently surrounded by these cytoplasmic organelles, but now ribosomes and rough vesicles are found gathered about the vacuole. By 8 h, the ribosome-lined vacuole has formed. Erythromycin, at concentrations that completely inhibit the intracellular multiplication of L. pneumophila, has no effect on vacuole formation. Formalin-killed L. pneumophila also reside in a membrane-bound vacuole after entry into monocytes. In contrast to the situation with live L. pneumophila, cytoplasmic organelles are not found surrounding vacuoles containing formalin-killed L. pneumophila at any time after entry. Formalin-killed bacteria are rapidly digested, and by 4 h, few remain intact. The L. pneumophila-containing vacuole has certain features in common with other intracellular organisms that inhibit phagosome-lysosome fusion; these organisms may share a common mechanism for vacuole formation and inhibition of phagosome-lysosome fusion.

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