Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus or GBS) is a commensal bacterium that can frequently behave as a pathogen, particularly in the neonatal period and in the elderly. The gut is a primary site of GBS colonization and a potential port of entry during neonatal infections caused by hypervirulent clonal complex 17 (CC17) strains. Here we studied the interactions between the prototypical CC17 BM110 strain and polarized enterocytes using the Caco-2 cell line. GBS could adhere to and invade these cells through their apical or basolateral surfaces. Basolateral invasion was considerably more efficient than apical invasion and predominated under conditions resulting in weakening of cell-to-cell junctions. Bacterial internalization occurred by a mechanism involving caveolae- and lipid raft-dependent endocytosis and actin re-organization, but not clathrin-dependent endocytosis. In the first steps of Caco-2 invasion, GBS colocalized with the early endocytic marker EEA-1, to later reside in acidic vacuoles. Taken together, these data suggest that CC17 GBS selectively adheres to the lateral surface of enterocytes from which it enters through caveolar lipid rafts using a classical, actin-dependent endocytic pathway. These data may be useful to develop alternative preventive strategies aimed at blocking GBS invasion of the intestinal barrier.
de Gaetano G. V.
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