Egress of Listeria monocytogenes from Mesenteric Lymph Nodes Depends on Intracellular Replication and Cell-to-Cell Spread

Jamila S. Tucker, Jooyoung Cho, Taylor M. Albrecht, Jessica L. Ferrell, Sarah E.F. D'Orazio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) function as a barrier to systemic spread for both commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Listeria monocytogenes, a facultative intracellular foodborne pathogen, readily overcomes this barrier and spreads into the bloodstream, causing life-threatening systemic infections. We show here that intracellular replication protected L. monocytogenes from clearance by monocytes and neutrophils and promoted colonization of the small intestine-draining MLN (sMLN) but was not required for dissemination to the colon-draining MLN (cMLN). Intestinal tissue had enough free lipoate to support LplA2-dependent extracellular growth of L. monocytogenes, but exogenous lipoate in the MLN was severely limited, and so the bacteria could replicate only inside cells, where they used LplA1 to scavenge lipoate from host peptides. When foodborne infection was manipulated to allow DlplA1 L. monocytogenes to colonize the MLN to the same extent as wild-type bacteria, the mutant was still never recovered in the spleen or liver of any animal. We found that intracellular replication in the MLN promoted actin-based motility and cell-to-cell spread of L. monocytogenes and that rapid efficient exit from the MLN was actA dependent. We conclude that intracellular replication of L. monocytogenes in intestinal tissues is not essential and serves primarily to amplify bacterial burdens above a critical threshold needed to efficiently colonize the cMLN. In contrast, intracellular replication in the MLN is absolutely required for further systemic spread and serves primarily to promote ActA-mediated cell-to-cell spread.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


  • facultatively intracellular pathogens
  • gastrointestinal infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Egress of Listeria monocytogenes from Mesenteric Lymph Nodes Depends on Intracellular Replication and Cell-to-Cell Spread'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this