1. Computational and Systems Biology
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
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Intracellular growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis after macrophage cell death leads to serial killing of host cells

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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e22028 doi: 10.7554/eLife.22028

Abstract

A hallmark of pulmonary tuberculosis is formation of macrophage-rich granulomas. These may restrict Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) growth, or progress to central necrosis and cavitation, facilitating pathogen growth. To determine factors leading to Mtb proliferation and host cell death, we used live cell imaging to track Mtb infection outcomes in individual primary human macrophages. Internalization of Mtb aggregates caused macrophage death, and phagocytosis of large aggregates was more cytotoxic than multiple small aggregates containing similar numbers of bacilli. Macrophage death did not result in clearance of Mtb. Rather, it led to accelerated intracellular Mtb growth regardless of prior activation or macrophage type. In contrast, bacillary replication was controlled in live phagocytes. Mtb grew as a clump in dead cells, and macrophages which internalized dead infected cells were very likely to die themselves, leading to a cell death cascade. This demonstrates how pathogen virulence can be achieved through numbers and aggregation states.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Deeqa Mahamed

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Mikael Boulle

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Yashica Ganga

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Chanelle Mc Arthur

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Steven Skroch

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Lance Oom

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Oana Catinas

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Kelly Pillay

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Myshnee Naicker

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Sanisha Rampersad

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  11. Colisile Mathonsi

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  12. Jessica Hunter

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  13. Gopalkrishna Sreejit

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  14. Alexander S Pym

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  15. Gila Lustig

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  16. Alex Sigal

    KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB-HIV, Durban, South Africa
    For correspondence
    alexander.sigal@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8571-2004

Funding

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1116944)

  • Alex Sigal

Human Frontier Science Program (CDA00050/2013-C)

  • Alex Sigal

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Blood was obtained from adult healthy volunteers after written informed consent (University of KwaZulu-Natal Institutional Review Board approval BE022/13). Alveolar macrophages were obtained from bronchoalveolar lavage as part of an indicated diagnostic procedure after written informed consent (University of KwaZulu-Natal Institutional Review Board approval BE037/12).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Larry Schlesinger

Publication history

  1. Received: October 1, 2016
  2. Accepted: January 27, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: January 28, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 21, 2017 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record updated: May 5, 2017 (version 3)

Copyright

© 2017, Mahamed et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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