Burkholderia mallei cellular interactions in a respiratory cell model

Gregory C. Whitlock, Gustavo A Valbuena, Vsevolod L. Popov, Barbara M. Judy, D. Mark Estes, Alfredo G. Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Burkholderia mallei is a facultative intracellular pathogen that survives and replicates in phagocytic cell lines. The bacterial burden recovered from naïve BALB/c mice infected by intranasal delivery indicated that B. mallei persists in the lower respiratory system. To address whether B. mallei invades respiratory non-professional phagocytes, this study utilized A549 and LA-4 respiratory epithelial cells and demonstrated that B. mallei possesses the capacity to adhere poorly to, but not to invade, these cells. Furthermore, it was found that B. mallei was taken up by the murine alveolar macrophage cell line MH-S following serum coating, an attribute suggestive of complement- or Fc receptor-mediated uptake. Invasion/intracellular survival assays of B. malleiinfected MH-S cells demonstrated decreased intracellular survival, whilst a type III secretion system effector bopA mutant strain survived longer than the wild-type. Evaluation of the potential mechanism(s) responsible for efficient clearing of intracellular organisms demonstrated comparable levels of caspase-3 in both the wild-type and bopA mutant with characteristics consistent with apoptosis of infected MH-S cells. Furthermore, challenge of BALB/c mice with the bopA mutant by the intranasal route resulted in increased survival. Overall, these data suggest that B. mallei induces apoptotic cell death, whilst the BopA effector protein participates in intracellular survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-562
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Burkholderia mallei cellular interactions in a respiratory cell model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this