Despite their clinical and biological importance, the cell biology of obligate intracellular bacteria is less well understood than that of many free-living model organisms. One reason for this is that they are mostly genetically intractable. As a consequence, it is not possible to engineer strains expressing fluorescent proteins and therefore fluorescence light microscopy - a key tool in host-pathogen cell biology studies - is difficult. Strain diversity also limits the universality of antibody-based immunofluorescence approaches. Here, we have developed a universal labelling protocol for intracellular bacteria based on a clickable methionine analog. Whilst we have applied this to obligate intracellular bacteria, we expect it to be useful for labelling free living bacteria as well as other intracellular pathogens.
Journal of microbiological methods
Public Health Research Institute, Rutgers University of New Jersey, USA.