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PLoS One. 2009 May 27;4(5):e5706. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005706.

Transcriptional down-regulation and rRNA cleavage in Dictyostelium discoideum mitochondria during Legionella pneumophila infection.

Author information

1
Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.

Abstract

Bacterial pathogens employ a variety of survival strategies when they invade eukaryotic cells. The amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum is used as a model host to study the pathogenic mechanisms that Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaire's disease, uses to kill eukaryotic cells. Here we show that the infection of D. discoideum by L. pneumophila results in a decrease in mitochondrial messenger RNAs, beginning more than 8 hours prior to detectable host cell death. These changes can be mimicked by hydrogen peroxide treatment, but not by other cytotoxic agents. The mitochondrial large subunit ribosomal RNA (LSU rRNA) is also cleaved at three specific sites during the course of infection. Two LSU rRNA fragments appear first, followed by smaller fragments produced by additional cleavage events. The initial LSU rRNA cleavage site is predicted to be on the surface of the large subunit of the mitochondrial ribosome, while two secondary sites map to the predicted interface with the small subunit. No LSU rRNA cleavage was observed after exposure of D. discoideum to hydrogen peroxide, or other cytotoxic chemicals that kill cells in a variety of ways. Functional L. pneumophila type II and type IV secretion systems are required for the cleavage, establishing a correlation between the pathogenesis of L. pneumophila and D. discoideum LSU rRNA destruction. LSU rRNA cleavage was not observed in L. pneumophila infections of Acanthamoeba castellanii or human U937 cells, suggesting that L. pneumophila uses distinct mechanisms to interrupt metabolism in different hosts. Thus, L. pneumophila infection of D. discoideum results in dramatic decrease of mitochondrial RNAs, and in the specific cleavage of mitochondrial rRNA. The predicted location of the cleavage sites on the mitochondrial ribosome suggests that rRNA destruction is initiated by a specific sequence of events. These findings suggest that L. pneumophila specifically disrupts mitochondrial protein synthesis in D. discoideum during the course of infection.

PMID:
19492077
PMCID:
PMC2683564
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0005706
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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