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Endocytic recycling and vesicular transport systems mediate transcytosis of Leptospira interrogans across cell monolayer

Li, Y;Li, KX;Hu, WL;Ojcius, DM;Fang, JQ;Li, SJ;Lin, X;Yan, J;

Many bacterial pathogens can cause septicemia and spread from the bloodstream into internal organs. During leptospirosis, individuals are infected by contact with Leptospira-containing animal urine-contaminated water. The spirochetes invade internal organs after septicemia to cause disease aggravation, but the mechanism of leptospiral excretion and spreading remains unknown. Here, we demonstrated that Leptospira interrogans entered human/mouse endothelial and epithelial cells and fibroblasts by caveolae/integrin-1-PI3K/FAK-mediated microfilament-dependent endocytosis to form Leptospira (Lep)-vesicles that did not fuse with lysosomes. Lep-vesicles recruited Rab5/Rab11 and Sec/Exo-SNARE proteins in endocytic recycling and vesicular transport systems for intracellular transport and release by SNARE-complex/FAK-mediated microfilament/microtubule-dependent exocytosis. Both intracellular leptospires and infected cells maintained their viability. Leptospiral propagation was only observed in mouse fibroblasts. Our study revealed that L. interrogans utilizes endocytic recycling and vesicular transport systems for transcytosis across endothelial or epithelial barrier in blood vessels or renal tubules, which contributes to spreading in vivo and transmission of leptospirosis. 2019, Li et al.