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Thu Phong Nguyen, Trong; Wang, Jinyong; Majzoub-Altweck, Monir; Fell, Shari and Straubinger, Reinhard K. (2019): Recovering host cell-free Anaplasma phagocytophilum from HL-60 cells by using rock tumbler grit in comparison to the syringe lysis method. In: Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 2: pp. 280-285

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Anaplasma phagocytophilum (Ap) is a tick-transmitted obligate intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of the granulocytic anaplasmosis in various species of domestic animals and in humans. During intracellular development Ap transforms from a dense-cored cell form into a reticulate cell form and vice versa. For isolation of intracellular bacteria, a range of different purification methods is used. However, unlike other Gram-negative bacteria Ap is considered to be sensitive to mechanical stress and osmolarity changes. An updated semi-purification method using rock tumbler grit is introduced here to increase the outcome of bacteria and to facilitate the procedure of host cell lysis. The objective of this study was to evaluate the structural integrity and infectivity of Ap after lysis of the host cells using rock tumbler grit and to compare the outcome to that of the frequently used method, syringe lysis. Human promyelocytic leukemia cell lines (HL-60) were infected with Ap and following host cell-free bacteria were assessed by transmission electron microscopy. The outcome of the different purification methods was compared using live/dead-staining based on immunofluorescence to count the number of viable bacteria and real-time PCR to compare the amount of DNA. Subsequently the isolated bacteria were tested to infect naive cell cultures. We observed that both Ap dense-cored cells and reticulate cells are preserved intact after the application of rock tumbler grit. The number of viable, host cell-free bacteria was higher by factor 1.7-2.4 compared to the syringe lysis protocol. Quantitative analysis based on real-time PCR showed an increase of bacterial DNA up to 1.6-2.9 times higher using the rock tumbler grit protocol. Bacteria released from the same number of infected host cells were used for new infections. Flow cytometric analysis of the cell cultures confirmed that the number of Ap organisms recovered by using the rock tumbler grit protocol resulted in higher infection rates than the number of Ap organisms recovered by using syringe lysis protocol. Our observations indicate that the rock tumbler grit protocol can be applied as a safe, robust and convenient method to recover Ap compared to syringe lysis.

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