Mycobacterial surface moieties are released from infected macrophages by a constitutive exocytic event

Wandy L. Beatty, Heinz Joachim Ullrich, David G. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Bacterial cell wall constituents are released from mycobacterial phagosomes and actively traffic within infected macrophages. Colocalization of fluorescently tagged bacterial moieties with endocytic tracers revealed the dynamic movement of released mycobacterial constituents into the endocytic network with accumulation in tubular lysosomal-like compartments. The released bacterial constituents not only penetrated the infected host cell but were also present in an extracellular microvesicular fraction. To identify the intracellular source of these exocytic compartments, released vesicular material was isolated from culture supernatants by differential ultracentrifugation and characterized by Western blot and electron microscopy analyses. The presence of lysosomal membrane proteins and lysosomal proteases suggested that labeled mycobacterial cell wall constituents access a constitutive lysosomal exocytic pathways. An abundance of multilamellar extracellular compartments morphologically reminiscent of MHC class II-enriched compartments (MIIC) implicated a MHC class II transport pathway in the extracellular release of bacterial constituents. Increases in intracellular free calcium have previously been shown to trigger lysosomal exocytosis by inducing fusion of lysosomes with the plasma membrane. To test if an increase in calcium would stimulate exocytosis with release of mycobacterial constituents, infected macrophages were exposed to the calcium ionophore A23187. The ionophore triggered the release of a microvesicular fraction containing labeled bacterial moieties, implicating calcium-regulated lysosomal exocytosis as a trafficking pathway by which mycobacterial products are released from infected macrophages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean journal of cell biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Exocytosis
  • Macrophages
  • Mycobacterium


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