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Infect Immun. 2003 Jun;71(6):3473-84.

Deletion of the gene encoding p60 in Listeria monocytogenes leads to abnormal cell division and loss of actin-based motility.

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  • 1Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie der Universität Würzburg, Theodor-Boveri-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Am Hubland, Germany.


Protein p60 encoded by the iap gene is regarded as an essential gene product of Listeria monocytogenes. Here we report, however, the successful construction of a viable iap deletion mutant of L. monocytogenes EGD. The mutant, which produces no p60, shows abnormal septum formation and tends to form short filaments and hooked forms during logarithmic growth. These abnormal bacterial cells break into almost normal sized single bacteria in the late-stationary-growth phase. The iap mutant is strongly attenuated in a mouse model after intravenous injection, demonstrating the importance of p60 during infection, and the invasiveness of the Deltaiap mutant for 3T6 fibroblasts and Caco-2 epithelial cells is slightly reduced. Upon uptake by epithelial cells and macrophages, the iap mutant escapes from the phagosome into the cytosol with the same efficiency as the wild-type strain, and the mutant bacteria also grow intracellularly at a rate similar to that of the wild-type strain. Intracellular movement and cell-to-cell spread are drastically reduced in various cell lines, since the iap-negative bacteria fail to induce the formation of actin tails. However, the bacteria are covered with actin filaments. Most intracellular bacteria show a nonpolar and uneven distribution of ActA around the cell, in contrast to that for the wild-type strain, where ActA is concentrated at the old pole. In an iap(+) revertant strain that produces wild-type levels of p60, intracellular movement, cell-to-cell spread, and polar distribution of ActA are fully restored. In vitro analysis of ActA distribution on the filaments of the Deltaiap strain shows that the loss of bacterial septum formation leads to ActA accumulation at the presumed division sites. In the light of data presented here and elswhere, we propose to rename iap (invasion-associated protein) cwhA (cell wall hydrolase A).

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