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Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 1999;7(1-2):58-63.

Surface-associated heat shock proteins of Legionella pneumophila and Helicobacter pylori: roles in pathogenesis and immunity.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Bacterial heat shock proteins (Hsps) are abundantly produced during the course of most microbial infections and are often targeted by the mammalian immune response. While Hsps have been well characterized for their roles in protein folding and secretion activities, little attention has been given to their participation in pathogenesis. In the case of Legionella pneumophila, an aquatic intracellular parasite of protozoa and cause of Legionnaires' disease, Hsp60 is uniquely located in the periplasm and on the bacterial surface. Surface-associated Hsp60 promotes attachment and invasion in a HeLa cell model and may alter an early step associated with the fusion of phagosomes with lysosomes. Avirulent strains of L. pneumophila containing defined mutations in several dot/icm genes are defective in localizing Hsp60 onto their surface and are reduced approximately 1000-fold in their invasiveness towards HeLa cells. For the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori, surface-associated Hsp60 and Hsp70 mediate attachment to gastric epithelial cells. The increased expression of these Hsps following acid shock correlates with both increased association with and inflammation of the gastric mucosa. A role for Hsps in colonization, mucosal infection and in promoting inflammation is discussed.

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