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Listeriolysin O allows Listeria monocytogenes replication in macrophage vacuoles

A recent study revealed that can replicate in the vacuoles within . Cheryl L. Birmingham and her team from the University of Toronto in Canada observed the localisation of bacteria in large compartments that they denoted spacious Listeria-containing phagosomes (SLAPs). The SLAPs could also be seen in vitro. They turned out to be non-acidic and non-degradative compartments that are generated in an autophagy-dependent manner.

In the SLAPs, bacteria replication was reduced when compared to the bacteria in the cytosol. Listeriolysin O (LLO, encoded by the gene hly) is a pore-forming toxin, crucial for virulence. This toxin was necessary and sufficient for SLAP formation. mutants, exhibiting only low expression of LLO, could not escape phagosomes but did replicated slowly in SLAPs when observed for 72 h. The Canadian scientists discovered a mechanism by which can uphold a persistent infection in host .

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