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Adv Appl Microbiol. 2012;79:43-71. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394318-7.00003-6.

Innate Immunity to Intracellular Pathogens: Lessons Learned from Legionella pneumophila.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Intracellular bacterial pathogens have the remarkable ability to manipulate host cell processes in order to establish a replicative niche within the host cell. In response, the host can initiate immune defenses that lead to the eventual restriction and clearance of intracellular infection. The bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila has evolved elaborate virulence mechanisms that allow for its survival inside protozoa within a specialized membrane-bound organelle. These strategies also enable L. pneumophila to survive and replicate within alveolar macrophages, and can result in the severe pneumonia Legionnaires' disease. Essential to L. pneumophila's intracellular lifestyle is a specialized type IV secretion system, termed Dot/Icm, that translocates bacterial effector proteins into host cells. The ease with which L. pneumophila can be genetically manipulated has facilitated the comparison of host responses to virulent and isogenic avirulent mutants lacking a functional Dot/Icm system. This has made L. pneumophila an excellent model for understanding how the host discriminates between pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria and for systematically dissecting host defense mechanisms against intracellular pathogens. In this chapter, I discuss a few examples demonstrating how the study of immune responses triggered specifically by the L. pneumophila type IV secretion system has provided unique insight into our understanding of host immunity against intracellular bacterial pathogens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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