Interaction of Mycoplasma genitalium with host cells: evidence for nuclear localization

Microbiology. 2008 Oct;154(Pt 10):3033-3041. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2008/020735-0.


Mycoplasma genitalium (Mg) is a mollicute that causes a range of human urogenital infections. A hallmark of these bacteria is their ability to establish chronic infections that can persist despite completion of appropriate antibiotic therapies and intact and functional immune systems. Intimate adherence and surface colonization of mycoplasmas to host cells are important pathogenic features. However, their facultative intracellular nature is poorly understood, partly due to difficulties in developing and standardizing cellular interaction model systems. Here, we characterize growth and invasion properties of two Mg strains (G37 and 1019V). Mg G37 is a high-passage laboratory strain, while Mg 1019V is a low-passage isolate recovered from the cervix. The two strains diverge partially in gene sequences for adherence-related proteins and exhibit subtle variations in their axenic growth. However, with both strains and consistent with our previous studies, a subset of adherent Mg organisms invade host cells and exhibit perinuclear targeting. Remarkably, intranuclear localization of Mg proteins is observed, which occurred as early as 30 min after infection. Mg strains deficient in adherence were markedly reduced in their ability to invade and associate with perinuclear and nuclear sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Cell Nucleus / microbiology*
  • Cervix Uteri / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • HeLa Cells
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mycoplasma Infections / microbiology*
  • Mycoplasma genitalium / genetics
  • Mycoplasma genitalium / growth & development*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Bacterial