Maturation of the Coxiella burnetii parasitophorous vacuole requires bacterial protein synthesis but not replication

Cell Microbiol. 2003 Jul;5(7):469-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2003.00293.x.


This study examined whether protein synthesis and replication are required for maturation and fusogenicity of the lysosomal-like, large and spacious parasitophorous vacuole (PV) of Coxiella burnetii, an obligate intracellular bacterium. Large and spacious PV with multiple non-replicating C. burnetii were observed by phase microscopy in Vero cells infected at a multiplicity of infection of ten and treated with a bacteriostatic concentration of nalidixic acid or carbenicillin, antimicrobics that inhibit DNA and cell wall biosynthesis respectively. Conversely, large and spacious PV were not observed in cells treated with a bacteriostatic concentration of the protein synthesis inhibitor chloramphenicol. Rather, fluorescence microscopy of individual cells revealed multiple, acidic PV harbouring a single organism tightly bounded by a LAMP-1 positive vacuolar membrane. These vacuoles homotypically fused to form a large and spacious PV upon removal of the drug. Chloramphenicol also inhibited trafficking of latex beads to large and spacious PV and caused mature PV to collapse. Collectively, these results demonstrate that C. burnetii protein synthesis, but not replication, is required for fusion between nascent C. burnetii PV and latex bead phagosomes, and also for formation and maintenance of large and spacious, replicative PV. However, transit of nascent PV through the endocytic pathway to ultimately acquire lysosomal markers appears to occur irrespective of Coxiella protein synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Carbenicillin / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Chloramphenicol / pharmacology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Coxiella burnetii / growth & development*
  • Coxiella burnetii / metabolism
  • Coxiella burnetii / pathogenicity
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microspheres
  • Phagosomes / physiology
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Vacuoles / physiology*
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure
  • Vero Cells


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, CD
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lysosome-Associated Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Carbenicillin