Campylobacter jejuni survives within epithelial cells by avoiding delivery to lysosomes.
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Campylobacter jejuni is one of the major causes of infectious diarrhea world-wide, although relatively little is know about its mechanisms of pathogenicity. This bacterium can gain entry into intestinal epithelial cells, which is thought to be important for its ability to persistently infect and cause disease. We found that C. jejuni is able to survive within intestinal epithelial cells. However, recovery of intracellular bacteria required pre-culturing under oxygen-limiting conditions, suggesting that C. jejuni undergoes significant physiological changes within the intracellular environment. We also found that in epithelial cells the C. jejuni-containing vacuole deviates from the canonical endocytic pathway immediately after a unique caveolae-dependent entry pathway, thus avoiding delivery into lysosomes. In contrast, in macrophages, C. jejuni is delivered to lysosomes and consequently is rapidly killed. Taken together, these studies indicate that C. jejuni has evolved specific adaptations to survive within host cells.