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Cell Microbiol. 2007 Jun;9(6):1571-87. Epub 2007 Feb 16.

Early trafficking and intracellular replication of Legionella longbeachaea within an ER-derived late endosome-like phagosome.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Immunology, University of Louisville College of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Legionella pneumophila is the predominant cause of Legionnaires' disease in the USA and Europe in contrast to Legionella longbeachaea, which is the leading cause of the disease in Western Australia. The ability of L. pneumophila to replicate intracellularly is triggered at the post-exponential phase along with expression of other virulence traits, such as motility. We show that while motility of L. longbeachaea is triggered upon growth transition into post-exponential phase, its ability to proliferate intracellularly is totally independent of the bacterial growth phase. Within macrophages, L. pneumophila replicates in a phagosome that excludes early and late endocytic markers and is surrounded by the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). In contrast, the L. longbeachaea phagosome colocalizes with the early endosomal marker early endosomal antigen 1 (EEA1) and the late endosomal markers lysosomal associated membrane glycoprotein 2 (LAMP-2) and mannose 6-phosphate receptor (M6PR), and is surrounded by the RER. The L. longbeachaea phagosome does not colocalize with the vacuolar ATPase (vATPase) proton pump, and the lysosomal luminal protease Cathepsin D, or the lysosomal tracer Texas red Ovalbumin (TROV). Intracellular proliferation of L. longbeachaea occurs in LAMP-2-positive phagosomes that are remodelled by the RER. Despite their distinct trafficking, both L. longbeachaea and L. pneumophila can replicate in communal phagosomes whose biogenesis is predominantly modulated by L. longbeachaea into LAMP-2-positive phagosomes. In addition, the L. pneumophila dotA mutant is rescued for intracellular replication if it co-inhabits the phagosome with L. longbeachaea. During late stages of infection, L. longbeachaea escape into the cytoplasm, prior to lysis of the macrophage, similar to L. pneumophila. We conclude that the L. longbeachaea phagosome matures to a non-acidified late endosome-like stage that is remodelled by the RER, indicating an idiosyncratic trafficking of L. longbeachaea compared with other intracellular pathogens, and a divergence in its intracellular lifestyle from L. pneumophila. In addition, re-routing biogenesis of the L. pneumophila phagosome into a late endosome controlled by L. longbeachaea has no effect on intracellular replication.

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