Given that macrophages can proliferate and that certain microbes survive inside phagocytic cells, the question arises as to the post-mitotic distribution of microbial cargo. Using macrophage-like cells we evaluated the post-mitotic distribution of intracellular Cryptococcus yeasts and polystyrene beads by comparing experimental data to a stochastic model. For beads, the post-mitotic distribution was that expected from chance alone. However, for yeast cells the post-mitotic distribution was unequal, implying preferential sorting to one daughter cell. This mechanism for unequal distribution was phagosomal fusion, which effectively reduced the intracellular particle number. Hence, post-mitotic intracellular particle distribution is stochastic, unless microbial and/or host factors promote unequal distribution into daughter cells. In our system unequal cargo distribution appeared to benefit the microbe by promoting host cell exocytosis. Post-mitotic infectious cargo distribution is a new parameter to consider in the study of intracellular pathogens since it could potentially define the outcome of phagocytic-microbial interactions.
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