The Enterobacter cloacae complex (Ecc) is a group of enteric Gram-negative bacteria that also exist as commensals in nature. Ecc bacteria are also responsible for nosocomial outbreaks, targeting primarily immunocompromised patients and causing a wide range of systemic infections. Infection is often fatal as management is complicated by the high-level multidrug resistance expressed by Ecc isolates. Indeed, the Enterobacter species represent the last ‘E’ of the ESKAPE pathogens, which are the global leading causes of nosocomial infections. Despite the clinical relevance of Ecc, little is known about their virulence-associated properties and pathogenicity. Bridging this gap in knowledge is fundamental to provide a blueprint to better tackle Ecc infections. The aim of this study is to explore how E. cloacae interact with human macrophages and identify the bacterial and host cell factors involved in this process. Differentiated, human THP-1 monocytic macrophages were infected with fluorescent E. cloacae for various lengths of time. Macrophage infection was analysed by confocal microscopy and images processed on ImageJ and LAS X. Data suggests that approximately 90 % of intracellular E. cloacae are killed by 5 h post-infection, but the remaining 10 % of the bacterial population survives and persists up to 48 h post-infection. We have also observed E. cloacae colocalising with early and late endosomes as well as lysosomes. Our current results suggest that E. cloacae can subvert normal phagocytic trafficking and possibly adapt to survive inside the acidic lysosomal environment.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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