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Mol Microbiol. 1998 May;28(3):663-74.

Legionella pneumophila DotA protein is required for early phagosome trafficking decisions that occur within minutes of bacterial uptake.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Numerous intracellular bacterial pathogens modulate the nature of the membrane-bound compartment in which they reside, although little is known about the molecular basis for this control. Legionella pneumophila is a bacterial pathogen able to grow within human alveolar macrophages and residing in a phagosome that does not fuse with lysosomes. This study demonstrates that the dotA product is required to regulate trafficking of the L. pneumophila phagosome. Phagosomes containing L. pneumophila dotA+ bacteria exhibited differential trafficking profiles when compared with isogenic dotA mutants. Phagosomes containing dotA mutants showed rapid accumulation of the lysosomal glycoprotein LAMP-1 as early as 5 min after uptake, whereas the majority of wild-type L. pneumophila phagosomes did not acquire LAMP-1. The association of LAMP-1 with phagosomes containing dotA mutant bacteria was concomitant with the appearance of the small GTP-binding protein Rab7 on the vacuolar membrane. These data demonstrate that phagosomes containing replication-competent L. pneumophila evade early endocytic fusion events. In contrast, the kinetics of LAMP-1 and Rab7 association indicate that the dotA mutants are routed along a well-characterized endocytic pathway leading to fusion with lysosomes. Genetic studies show that L. pneumophila requires DotA expression before macrophage uptake in order to establish an intracellular site for replication. However, the bacteria do not appear to require continuous expression of the DotA protein to maintain a replicative phagosome. These data indicate that DotA is one factor that plays a fundamental role in regulating initial phagosome trafficking decisions either upon or immediately after macrophage uptake.

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