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Infect Immun. Apr 1993; 61(4): 1320–1329.
PMCID: PMC281365

Phenotypic modulation by Legionella pneumophila upon infection of macrophages.


Since many pathogenic bacteria manifest a coordinate regulation of gene expression in response to different environmental stimuli, we examined the phenotypic response of Legionella pneumophila to infection of macrophage-like U937 cells. Intracellular L. pneumophila was radiolabeled, and cell extracts were subjected to two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. At least 35 Legionella proteins were selectively induced during infection of macrophages, and one of these proteins was not detected in organisms grown in vitro. Expression of at least 32 proteins was selectively repressed during infection of macrophages, and 9 of these proteins were undetectable in intracellularly grown organisms. Thirteen of the macrophage-induced proteins were also induced by one or more of several stress conditions in vitro, and two of these proteins were the heat shock GroEL- and GroES-like proteins. Nineteen of the macrophage-repressed proteins were also repressed by one or more of the stress conditions in vitro. Our data showed that intracellular L. pneumophila manifested a phenotypic modulation and a global stress response to the intracellular environment of the macrophage. The data suggested that multiple regulons are involved in this modulation, which may contribute to the survival of L. pneumophila within alveolar macrophages.

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