Light microscopic studies of phagocytosis showed that Salmonella typhimurium entered mouse macrophages enclosed in spacious phagosomes (SP). Viewed by time-lapse video microscopy, bone marrow-derived macrophages exposed to S. typhimurium displayed generalized plasma membrane ruffling and macropinocytosis. Phagosomes containing Salmonella were morphologically indistinguishable from macropinosomes. SP formation was observed after several methods of bacterial opsonization, although bacteria opsonized with specific IgG appeared initially in small phagosomes that later enlarged. In contrast to macropinosomes induced by growth factors, which shrink completely within 15 min, SP persisted in the cytoplasm, enlarging often by fusion with macropinosomes or other SP. A Salmonella strain containing a constitutive mutation in the phoP virulence regulatory locus (PhoPc) induced significantly fewer SP. Similar to Yersinia enterocolitica, PhoPc bacteria entered macrophages in close-fitting phagosomes, consistent with that expected for conventional receptor-mediated phagocytosis. These results suggest that formation of SP contributes to Salmonella survival and virulence.

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