PloS one

Entry of Francisella tularensis into Murine B Cells: The Role of B Cell Receptors and Complement Receptors.

PMID 26161475


Francisella tularensis, the etiological agent of tularemia, is an intracellular pathogen that dominantly infects and proliferates inside phagocytic cells but can be seen also in non-phagocytic cells, including B cells. Although protective immunity is known to be almost exclusively associated with the type 1 pathway of cellular immunity, a significant role of B cells in immune responses already has been demonstrated. Whether their role is associated with antibody-dependent or antibody-independent B cell functions is not yet fully understood. The character of early events during B cell-pathogen interaction may determine the type of B cell response regulating the induction of adaptive immunity. We used fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry to identify the basic requirements for the entry of F. tularensis into B cells within in vivo and in vitro infection models. Here, we present data showing that Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica strain LVS significantly infects individual subsets of murine peritoneal B cells early after infection. Depending on a given B cell subset, uptake of Francisella into B cells is mediated by B cell receptors (BCRs) with or without complement receptor CR1/2. However, F. tularensis strain FSC200 ΔiglC and ΔftdsbA deletion mutants are defective in the ability to enter B cells. Once internalized into B cells, F. tularensis LVS intracellular trafficking occurs along the endosomal pathway, albeit without significant multiplication. The results strongly suggest that BCRs alone within the B-1a subset can ensure the internalization process while the BCRs on B-1b and B-2 cells need co-signaling from the co receptor containing CR1/2 to initiate F. tularensis engulfment. In this case, fluidity of the surface cell membrane is a prerequisite for the bacteria's internalization. The results substantially underline the functional heterogeneity of B cell subsets in relation to F. tularensis.