Protein chlorination in neutrophil phagosomes and correlation with bacterial killing

Free Radic Biol Med. 2014 Dec;77:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.08.013. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Neutrophils ingest and kill bacteria within phagocytic vacuoles. We investigated where they produce hypochlorous acid (HOCl) following phagocytosis by measuring conversion of protein tyrosine residues to 3-chlorotyrosine. We also examined how varying chloride availability affects the relationship between HOCl formation in the phagosome and bacterial killing. Phagosomal proteins, isolated following ingestion of opsonized magnetic beads, contained 11.4 Cl-Tyr per thousand tyrosine residues. This was 12 times higher than the level in proteins from the rest of the neutrophil and ~6 times higher than previously recorded for protein from ingested bacteria. These results indicate that HOCl production is largely localized to the phagosomes and a substantial proportion reacts with phagosomal protein before reaching the microbe. This will in part detoxify the oxidant but should also form chloramines which could contribute to the killing mechanism. Neutrophils were either suspended in chloride-free gluconate buffer or pretreated with formyl-Met-Leu-Phe, a procedure that has been reported to deplete intracellular chloride. These treatments, alone or in combination, decreased both chlorination in phagosomes and killing of Staphylococcus aureus by up to 50%. There was a strong positive correlation between the two effects. Killing was predominantly oxidant and myeloperoxidase dependent (88% inhibition by diphenylene iodonium and 78% by azide). These results imply that lowering the chloride concentration limits HOCl production and oxidative killing. They support a role for HOCl generation, rather than an alternative myeloperoxidase activity, in the killing process.

Keywords: 3-Chlorotyrosine; Chloride; Hypochlorous acid; Myeloperoxidase; Staphylococcus aureus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Degranulation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Halogenation
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Hypochlorous Acid / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Neutrophils / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Phagosomes / microbiology
  • Phagosomes / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Respiratory Burst
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology*


  • Hypochlorous Acid