JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Mycobacterium abscessus resists the innate cellular response by surviving cell lysis of infected phagocytes.

PLoS Pathogens 2023 March
Mycobacterium abscessus is the most pathogenic species among the predominantly saprophytic fast-growing mycobacteria. This opportunistic human pathogen causes severe infections that are difficult to eradicate. Its ability to survive within the host was described mainly with the rough (R) form of M. abscessus, which is lethal in several animal models. This R form is not present at the very beginning of the disease but appears during the progression and the exacerbation of the mycobacterial infection, by transition from a smooth (S) form. However, we do not know how the S form of M. abscessus colonizes and infects the host to then multiply and cause the disease. In this work, we were able to show the hypersensitivity of fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, to intrathoracic infections by the S and R forms of M. abscessus. This allowed us to unravel how the S form resists the innate immune response developed by the fly, both the antimicrobial peptides- and cellular-dependent immune responses. We demonstrate that intracellular M. abscessus was not killed within the infected phagocytic cells, by resisting lysis and caspase-dependent apoptotic cell death of Drosophila infected phagocytes. In mice, in a similar manner, intra-macrophage M. abscessus was not killed when M. abscessus-infected macrophages were lysed by autologous natural killer cells. These results demonstrate the propensity of the S form of M. abscessus to resist the host's innate responses to colonize and multiply within the host.

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