Phagocytosis by human leukocytes, phagosomal H and degradation of seven species of bacteria were studied by a flow cytometric method. The percentage of phagocytosing leukocytes was similar for all bacterial strains examined, but and were more slowly phagocytosed than other bacteria. The phagosomal H surrounding the different bacterial species 15 min after the start of phagocytosis were: 4.4; 4.9; 5.1; 5.2; 5.3; 5.4; and 5.7. For longer incubation periods, the phagosomal H remained nearly constant. and were the most readily degraded of the species tested. The proteins of all bacteria were degraded more rapidly than their DNA as determined by measurements of the loss of fluorescein-isothiocyanate-fluorescence and ethidium bromide-fluorescence, respectively. The rate of degradation varied from one bacterial species to another. The degradation of proteins and DNA was maximal for bacteria residing in a phagosomal environment estimated to be between H 5.2 and 5.4.


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