Incidence of an intracellular multiplication niche among Acinetobacter baumannii clinical isolates

  • The spread of antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii poses a significant threat to public health worldwide. This nosocomial bacterial pathogen can be associated with life-threatening infections, particularly in intensive care units. A. baumannii is mainly described as an extracellular pathogen with restricted survival within cells. This study shows that a subset of A. baumannii clinical isolates extensively multiply within nonphagocytic immortalized and primary cells without the induction of apoptosis and with bacterial clusters visible up to 48 h after infection. This phenotype was observed for the A. baumannii C4 strain associated with high mortality in a hospital outbreak and the A. baumannii ABC141 strain, which was isolated from the skin but was found to be hyperinvasive. Intracellular multiplication of these A. baumannii strains occurred within spacious single membrane-bound vacuoles, labeled with the lysosomal associate membrane protein (LAMP1). However, these compartments excluded lysotracker, an indicator of acidic pH, suggesting that A. baumannii can divert its trafficking away from the lysosomal degradative pathway. These compartments were also devoid of autophagy features. A high-content microscopy screen of 43 additional A. baumannii clinical isolates highlighted various phenotypes, and (i) the majority of isolates remained extracellular, (ii) a significant proportion was capable of invasion and limited persistence, and (iii) three more isolates efficiently multiplied within LAMP1-positive vacuoles, one of which was also hyperinvasive. These data identify an intracellular niche for specific A. baumannii clinical isolates that enables extensive multiplication in an environment protected from host immune responses and out of reach of many antibiotics. IMPORTANCE Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii isolates are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in hospitals worldwide. Understanding their pathogenicity is critical for improving therapeutic management. Although A. baumannii can steadily adhere to surfaces and host cells, most bacteria remain extracellular. Recent studies have shown that a small proportion of bacteria can invade cells but present limited survival. We have found that some A. baumannii clinical isolates can establish a specialized intracellular niche that sustains extensive intracellular multiplication for a prolonged time without induction of cell death. We propose that this intracellular compartment allows A. baumannii to escape the cell’s normal degradative pathway, protecting bacteria from host immune responses and potentially hindering antibiotic accessibility. This may contribute to A. baumannii persistence, relapsing infections, and enhanced mortality in susceptible patients. A high-content microscopy-based screen confirmed that this pathogenicity trait is present in other clinical A. baumannii isolates. There is an urgent need for new antibiotics or alternative antimicrobial approaches, particularly to combat carbapenem-resistant A. baumannii. The discovery of an intracellular niche for this pathogen, as well as hyperinvasive isolates, may help guide the development of antimicrobial therapies and diagnostics in the future.

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Author:Tristan RubioORCiD, Stéphanie Gagné, Charline Debruyne, Chloé DiasORCiD, Caroline CluzelORCiD, Doriane Mongellaz, Patricia RousselleORCiD, Stephan GöttigORCiDGND, Harald SeifertORCiDGND, Paul G. HigginsORCiD, Suzana P. SalcedoORCiD
Parent Title (English):mSystems
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
Place of publication:Washington, DC
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2022/02/01
Date of first Publication:2022/02/01
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/07/11
Tag:Acinetobacter baumannii; clinical isolates; high-content screen; intracellular multiplication
Article Number:e00488
Page Number:16
First Page:1
Last Page:16
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International