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J Bacteriol. 2019 Jun 21;201(14). pii: e00755-18. doi: 10.1128/JB.00755-18. Print 2019 Jul 15.

Potentiation of Cytokine-Mediated Restriction of Legionella Intracellular Replication by a Dot/Icm-Translocated Effector.

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Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA.
Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA


Legionella pneumophila is ubiquitous in freshwater environments, where it replicates within unicellular protozoa. However, L. pneumophila is also an accidental human pathogen that can cause Legionnaires' disease in immunocompromised individuals by uncontrolled replication within alveolar macrophages. To replicate within eukaryotic phagocytes, L. pneumophila utilizes a Dot/Icm type IV secretion system to translocate a large arsenal of over 300 effector proteins directly into host cells. In mammals, translocated effectors contribute to innate immune restriction of L. pneumophila We found previously that the effector LegC4 is important for L. pneumophila replication within a natural host protist but is deleterious to replication in a mouse model of Legionnaires' disease. In the present study, we used cultured mouse primary macrophages to investigate how LegC4 attenuates L. pneumophila replication. We found that LegC4 enhanced restriction of L. pneumophila replication within macrophages activated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or interferon gamma (IFN-γ). In addition, expression of legC4 was sufficient to restrict Legionella longbeachae replication within TNF- or IFN-γ-activated macrophages. Thus, this study demonstrates that LegC4 contributes to L. pneumophila clearance from healthy hosts by potentiating cytokine-mediated host defense mechanisms.IMPORTANCE Legionella spp. are natural pathogens of protozoa and accidental pathogens of humans. Innate immunity in healthy individuals effectively controls Legionella infection due in part to rapid and robust production of proinflammatory cytokines resulting from detection of Dot/Icm-translocated substrates, including effectors. Here, we demonstrate that the effector LegC4 enhances proinflammatory host restriction of Legionella by macrophages. These data suggest that LegC4 may augment proinflammatory signaling or antimicrobial activity of macrophages, a function that has not previously been observed for another bacterial effector. Further insight into LegC4 function will likely reveal novel mechanisms to enhance immunity against pathogens.


LegC4; Legionella ; effector functions; host-pathogen interactions; innate immunity; interferon gamma; tumor necrosis factor

[Available on 2019-12-21]

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