Flagella facilitate escape of Salmonella from oncotic macrophages

J Bacteriol. 2007 Nov;189(22):8224-32. doi: 10.1128/JB.00898-07. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


The intracellular parasite Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium causes a typhoid-like systemic disease in mice. Whereas the survival of Salmonella in phagocytes is well understood, little has been documented about the exit of intracellular Salmonella from host cells. Here we report that in a population of infected macrophages Salmonella induces "oncosis," an irreversible progression to eukaryotic cell death characterized by swelling of the entire cell body. Oncotic macrophages (OnMphis) are terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling negative and lack actin filaments (F-actin). The plasma membrane of OnMphis filled with bacilli remains impermeable, and intracellular Salmonella bacilli move vigorously using flagella. Eventually, intracellular Salmonella bacilli intermittently exit host cells in a flagellum-dependent manner. These results suggest that induction of macrophage oncosis and intracellular accumulation of flagellated bacilli constitute a strategy whereby Salmonella escapes from host macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Female
  • Flagella / physiology*
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Movement*
  • Necrosis
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / microbiology
  • Salmonella typhimurium / cytology
  • Salmonella typhimurium / physiology*