Mycobacterial phagosome maturation, rab proteins, and intracellular trafficking

V. Deretic, Laura E. Via, Rutilio A. Fratti, Dusanka Deretic

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


One of the most prominent features of pathogenic mycobacteria, which include the potent human pathogens Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae and their opportunistic relatives Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium marinum, is their ability to survive and multiply in phagosomes of mononuclear phagocytic cells. The phagocytosed mycobacteria reside in a vacuolar compartment which is exempted from maturation into the phagolysosome. Recently, the arrest of the maturation of phagosomes containing M. tuberculosis complex organisms (Mycobacterium bovis BCG) has been linked to the accumulation on the phagosomal membrane of the small GTP binding protein rab5, specific for the control of fusion within the early endosomal compartment. Furthermore, M. bovis BCG phagosome is devoid of rab7, a rab protein associated with the late endosome. The selective accumulation of rab5 and exclusion of rab7 defines the check point that has been compromised in mycobacterial phagosome maturation. Here we summarize these observations and relates them to other phenomena in the area of membrane and protein trafficking with the emphasis on phagosomes containing intracellular pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2542-2547
Number of pages6
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • GTP-binding protein
  • Lysosome
  • Phagosome
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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