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Trypanosoma cruzi extracellular amastigotes engage Rac1 and Cdc42 to invade macrophages

Cell invasion by Trypanosoma cruzi extracellular amastigotes (EAs) relies significantly upon the host cell actin cytoskeleton. In past decades EAs have been established as a reliable model for phagocytosis inducer in non-phagocytic cells. Our current hypothesis is that EAs engage a phagocytosis-like mechanism in non-professional phagocytic cells; however, the molecular mechanisms in professional phagocytes still remain unexplored. In this work, we evaluated the involvement of Rac1 and Cdc42 in the actin-dependent internalization of EAs in RAW 246.7 macrophages. Kinetic assays showed similar internalization of EAs in unstimulated RAW and non-phagocytic HeLa cells but increased in LPS/IFN-γ stimulated RAW cells. However, depletion of Rac1, Cdc42 or RhoA inhibited EA internalization similarly in both unstimulated and stimulated RAW cells. Overexpression of active, but not the dominant-negative, construct of Rac1 increased EA internalization. Remarkably, for Cdc42, both the active and the inactive mutants decreased EA internalization when compared to wild type groups. Despite that both Rac1 and Cdc42 activation mutants were similarly recruited to and colocalized with actin at the EA-macrophage contact sites when compared to their native isoforms. Altogether, these results corroborate that EAs engage phagocytic processes to invade both professional and non-professional phagocytic cells providing evidences of converging actin mediated mechanisms induced by intracellular pathogens in both cell types.

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