The interactions between the L. pneumophila phagosome and monocyte lysosomes were investigated by prelabeling the lysosomes with thorium dioxide, an electron-opaque colloidal marker, and by acid phosphatase cytochemistry. Phagosomes containing live L. pneumophila did not fuse with secondary lysosomes at 1 h after entry into monocytes or at 4 or 8 h after entry by which time the ribosome-lined L. pneumophila replicative vacuole had formed. In contrast, the majority of phagosomes containing formalin-killed L. pneumophila, live Streptococcus pneumoniae, and live Escherichia coli had fused with secondary lysosomes by 1 h after entry into monocytes. Erythromycin, a potent inhibitor of bacterial protein synthesis, at a concentration that completely inhibits L. pneumophila intracellular multiplication, had no influence on fusion of L. pneumophila phagosomes with secondary lysosomes. However, coating live L. pneumophila with antibody or with antibody and complement partially overcame the inhibition of fusion. Also activating the monocytes promoted fusion of a small proportion of phagosomes containing live L. pneumophila with secondary lysosomes. Acid phosphatase cytochemistry revealed that phagosomes containing live L. pneumophila did not fuse with either primary or secondary lysosomes. In contrast to phagosomes containing live bacteria, the majority of phagosomes containing formalin-killed L. pneumophila were fused with lysosomes by acid phosphatase cytochemistry. The capacity of L. pneumophila to inhibit phagosome-lysosome fusion may be a critical mechanism by which the bacterium resists monocyte microbicidal effects.

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