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Cell Microbiol. 2010 Feb;12(2):140-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2009.01401.x. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Modulation of caspases and their non-apoptotic functions by Legionella pneumophila.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and the Center for Microbial Interface Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Legionella pneumophila has become a model system to decipher the non-apoptotic functions of caspases and their role in immunity. In permissive cells, the L. pneumophila-containing vacuole evades endosomal traffic and is remodelled by the endoplasmic reticulum. Evasion of the endosomes is mediated by the Dot/Icm type IV secretion system. Upon L. pneumophila infection of genetically restrictive cells such as wild-type (WT) C57Bl/6J murine macrophages, flagellin is sensed by the NOD-like receptor Nlrc4 leading to caspase-1 activation by the inflammasome complex. Then, caspase-7 is activated downstream of the Nlrc4 inflammasome, promoting non-apoptotic functions such as L. pneumophila-containing phagosome maturation and bacterial degradation. Interestingly, caspase-3 is activated in permissive cells during early stages of infection. However, caspase-3 activation does not lead to apoptosis until late stages of infection because it is associated with potent Dot/Icm-mediated anti-apoptotic stimuli that render the infected cells resistant to external apoptotic inducers. Therefore, the role of caspase-1 and non-apoptotic functions of executioner caspases are temporally and spatially modulated during infection by L. pneumophila, which determine permissiveness to intracellular bacterial proliferation. This review will examine the novel activation pathways of caspases by L. pneumophila and discuss their role in genetic restriction and permissiveness to infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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