Cell Biology

A View to a Kill

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Science  12 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5639, pp. 1445
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5639.1445a

Pathogenic mycobacteria are engulfed by host macrophages in a process known as phagocytosis. Once inside the cell, the mycobacteria take up residence within the macrophage phagosome—a compartment that generally acts to degrade internalized material. However, the mycobacteria inhibit phagosome maturation and so are able to survive and thrive. In a reconstituted in vitro assay using isolated phagosomes, Anes et al. examined the effect of a variety of lipids on phagosome behavior. Different lipids inhibited or stimulated the assembly of actin on isolated phagosomes. In infected macrophages, selected lipids could promote the assembly of actin on phagosomes, and this was correlated with an increase in the maturation of the phagosomes and mycobacterial killing. Another set of lipids had the opposite effect and promoted pathogen growth. The lipid composition of phagosomes can thus be critical in the clearance of mycobacterial infections. — SMH

Nature Cell Biol. 5, 793 (2003).

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