A key aspect of Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis is the ability of the bacteria to survive within the host macrophage. A phagosome containing an IgG-coated bead matures into a lysosomal compartment as evidenced by a decrease in pH and an increased acquisition of hydrolytic enzymes. In contrast, when M. tuberculosis is phagocytosed, the maturation of the bacteria-containing phagosome is arrested, and the bacterium resides within a vacuole that retains characteristics of early endosomal compartments. M. tuberculosis-containing phagosomes are delayed in the recruitment of the early endosome autoantigen EEA1. Acquisition of EEA1 is dependent on the presence of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI-3-P) generated by the kinase Vps34. We tested the hypothesis that delayed recruitment of EEA1 was due to altered kinetics of PI-3-P accumulation at the phagosomal membrane. Biochemical analysis of the phosphatidylinositol phosphates on M. tuberculosis-containing phagosomes revealed that PI-3-P acquisition was markedly retarded and reduced in comparison to IgG bead-containing phagosomes. Given the role these lipids play in the regulation of phagosome maturation these findings have implications with respect to the mechanisms behind the arrest of phagosome maturation.
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