Rab GTPases regulating phagosome maturation are differentially recruited to mycobacterial phagosomes

Traffic. 2011 Apr;12(4):407-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2011.01165.x. Epub 2011 Feb 21.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) is an intracellular pathogen that can replicate within infected macrophages. The ability of M. tb to arrest phagosome maturation is believed to facilitate its intracellular multiplication. Rab GTPases regulate membrane trafficking, but details of how Rab GTPases regulate phagosome maturation and how M. tb modulates their localization during inhibiting phagolysosome biogenesis remain elusive. We compared the localization of 42 distinct Rab GTPases to phagosomes containing either Staphylococcus aureus or M. tb. The phagosomes containing S. aureus were associated with 22 Rab GTPases, but only 5 of these showed similar localization kinetics as the phagosomes containing M. tb. The Rab GTPases responsible for phagosome maturation, phagosomal acidification and recruitment of cathepsin D were examined in macrophages expressing the dominant-negative form of each Rab GTPase. LysoTracker staining and immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that Rab7, Rab20 and Rab39 regulated phagosomal acidification and Rab7, Rab20, Rab22b, Rab32, Rab34, Rab38 and Rab43 controlled the recruitment of cathepsin D to the phagosome. These results suggest that phagosome maturation is achieved by a series of interactions between Rab GTPases and phagosomes and that differential recruitment of these Rab GTPases, except for Rab22b and Rab43, to M. tb-containing phagosomes is involved in arresting phagosome maturation and inhibiting phagolysosome biogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cathepsin D / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Phagosomes / enzymology
  • Phagosomes / metabolism*
  • Phagosomes / microbiology*
  • Protein Transport
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cathepsin D
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins