Use of green fluorescent protein in visualisation of pneumococcal invasion of broncho-epithelial cells in vivo

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Jan 1;194(1):105-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2001.tb09454.x.


The pneumococcus is the principle cause of bacterial pneumonia and also a major cause of bacterial meningitis. The mechanisms and sites of pneumococcal adherence and invasion of the respiratory tract in vivo are not clear however. We have made pneumococci expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) and used it to trace pneumococcal adherence and invasion in vivo. By using GFP pneumococci we have shown bacterial adherence and invasion of broncho-epithelial cells in vivo by 4 h post-infection, with increases in pneumococcal invasiveness by 24 h. Using confocal image analysis we have shown varying levels of pneumococcal penetration and internalisation into host cells, as well as translocation through epithelial layers. To our knowledge this is the first report of pneumococcal invasion and cellular translocation in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Blood / microbiology
  • Bronchi / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / pathogenicity*
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / physiology
  • Transformation, Bacterial / genetics


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins