Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitansleukotoxin induces cytosol acidification in LFA-1 expressing immune cells

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Studies have suggested thatAggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitansleukotoxin (LtxA) kills human lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1; CD11a/CD18)-bearing immune cells through a lysosomal-mediated mechanism. Lysosomes are membrane-bound cellular organelles that contain an array of acid hydrolases that are capable of breaking down biomolecules. The lysosomal membrane bilayer confines the pH-sensitive enzymes within an optimal acidic (pH 4.8) environment thereby protecting the slightly basic cytosol (pH 6.8–7.5). In the current study, we have probed the effect of LtxA-induced cytolysis on lysosomal integrity in two different K562 erythroleukemia cell lines. K562-puro/LFA-1 cells were stably transfected with CD11a and CD18 cDNA to express LFA-1 on the cell surface while K562-puro, which does not express LFA-1, served as a control. Following treatment with 100 ng ml−1 LtxA cells were analyzed by live cell imaging in conjunction with time-lapse confocal microscopy and by flow cytometry. Using a pH-sensitive indicator (pHrodo®) we demonstrated that the toxin causes a decrease in the intracellular pH in K562-puro/LFA-1 cells that is noticeable within the first 15 min of treatment. This process correlated with the disappearance of lysosomes in the cytosol as determined by both acridine orange and LysoTracker® Red DND-99 staining. These changes were not observed in K562-puro cells or when heat inactivated toxin was added to K562-puro/LFA-1. Our results suggest that LtxA induces lysosomal damage, cytosol acidification, which is followed by cell death in K562-puro/LFA-1 cells.

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