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Microbiology. 2006 Dec;152(Pt 12):3569-73.

Type IV pili and type II secretion play a limited role in Legionella pneumophila biofilm colonization and retention.

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Respiratory Disease Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Legionellae colonize biofilms in building water systems, yet little is known about their interaction with the organisms in these microbial communities. The role of Legionella pneumophila type IV pili and the type II secretion pre-pilin peptidase was evaluated in a model biofilm system. L. pneumophila strains 130b (wild-type), BS100 (a type IV pili mutant) and NU243 (a pre-pilin peptidase mutant) were assessed for attachment and retention in an established biofilm. Strains 130b and NU243 colonized the biofilm at a similar level while BS100 attached at a tenfold lower level. Over time, NU243 dropped below the level of detection while BS100 remained in the biofilm throughout the course of the experiment. The wild-type strain decreased but remained at a considerably higher level than either of the mutants. Inclusion of amoebae with BS100 allowed for attachment and retention at a level similar to 130b. NU243, which displays reduced intracellular replication, was able to establish itself and persist in the presence of amoebae. Thus, type IV pili and the pre-pilin peptidase facilitate L. pneumophila colonization of biofilms but are not required in the presence of a host for intracellular replication.

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