Send to

Choose Destination
J Bacteriol. 2005 Nov;187(22):7716-26.

Evidence for acquisition of Legionella type IV secretion substrates via interdomain horizontal gene transfer.

Author information

Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular & Biophysical Studies, New York, New York 10032, USA.


Intracellular pathogens exploit host cell functions to create a replication niche inside eukaryotic cells. The causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, the gamma-proteobacterium Legionella pneumophila, resides and replicates within a modified vacuole of protozoan and mammalian cells. L. pneumophila translocates effector proteins into host cells through the Icm-Dot complex, a specialized type IVB secretion system that is required for intracellular growth. To find out if some effector proteins may have been acquired through interdomain horizontal gene transfer (HGT), we performed a bioinformatic screen that searched for eukaryotic motifs in all open reading frames of the L. pneumophila Philadelphia-1 genome. We found 44 uncharacterized genes with many distinct eukaryotic motifs. Most of these genes contain G+C biases compared to other L. pneumophila genes, supporting the theory that they were acquired through HGT. Furthermore, we found that several of them are expressed and up-regulated in stationary phase in an RpoS-dependent manner. In addition, at least seven of these gene products are translocated into host cells via the Icm-Dot complex, confirming their role in the intracellular environment. Reminiscent of the case with most Icm-Dot substrates, most of the strains containing mutations in these genes grew comparably to the parent strain intracellularly. Our findings suggest that in L. pneumophila, interdomain HGT may have been a major mechanism for the acquisition of determinants of infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center