Entry, Intracellular Survival, and Multinucleated-Giant-Cell-Forming Activity of Burkholderia pseudomallei in Human Primary Phagocytic and Nonphagocytic Cells.

Whiteley L1, Meffert T1, Haug M1, Weidenmaier C1, Hopf V2, Bitschar K3, Schittek B3, Kohler C2, Steinmetz I2, West TE4, Schwarz S5
Source: Infect Immun
Publication Date: (2017)
Issue: 85: e00468-17


The human pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei and the related species Burkholderia thailandensis are facultative intracellular bacteria characterized by the ability to escape into the cytosol of the host cell and to stimulate the formation of multinucleated giant cells (MNGCs). MNGC formation is induced via an unknown mechanism by bacterial type VI secretion system 5 (T6SS-5), which is an essential virulence factor in both species. Despite the vital role of the intracellular life cycle in the pathogenesis of the bacteria, the range of host cell types permissive for initiation and completion of the intracellular cycle is poorly defined. In the present study, we used several different types of human primary cells to evaluate bacterial entry, intracellular survival, and MNGC formation. We report the capacity of B. pseudomallei to enter, efficiently replicate in, and mediate MNGC formation of vein endothelial and bronchial epithelial cells, indicating that the T6SS-5 is important in the host-pathogen interaction in these cells. Furthermore, we show that B. pseudomallei invades fibroblasts and keratinocytes and survives inside these cells as well as in monocyte-derived macrophages and neutrophils for at least 17 h postinfection; however, MNGC formation is not induced in these cells. In contrast, infection of mixed neutrophils and RAW264.7 macrophages with B. thailandensis stimulated the formation of heterotypic MNGCs in a T6SS-5-dependent manner. In summary, the ability of the bacteria to enter and survive as well as induce MNGC formation in certain host cells may contribute to the pathogenesis observed in B. pseudomallei infection