Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19028596
Microbes Infect. 2009 Jan;11(1):115-22
Intracellular pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis survives and replicates in macrophages but limited information is available on its replication into non-phagocytic cells. Here we study the role of the M. tuberculosis virulence gene phoP in the intracellular growth with rat and human lung fibroblasts. In contrast to macrophages, attenuated M. tuberculosis phoP mutant was able to multiply intracellularly in fibroblasts at the same level as the virulent M. tuberculosis. However, when M. tuberculosis virulence was studied using human foetal lung fibroblasts, MRC-5 cell line, the virulent strain caused a significant damage in cells compared with attenuated strains BCG and M. tuberculosis phoP mutant. We analysed the effect of cytoskeleton inhibitors in NRK-49F fibroblasts. M. tuberculosis invasion was not inhibited, suggesting that mycobacterial uptake was microtubule and microfilament independent. Our results suggest that PhoP in M. tuberculosis does not regulate intracellular replication in fibroblasts, contrary to what happens in macrophages. The ability of M. tuberculosis phoP mutant to replicate within non-phagocytic cells, such as fibroblasts, without causing damage, could be a potential advantage for a live attenuated vaccine against tuberculosis.