Identification of conserved ABC importers necessary for intracellular survival of Legionella pneumophila in multiple hosts

Amrita Lama, Samuel L. Drennan, Rudd C. Johnson, Grace L. Rubenstein, Eric D. Cambronne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


It is established that the human pathogen Legionella pneumophila becomes significantly augmented for infection of macrophages after intracellular growth in amoebae when compared to like-strains cultivated in laboratory media. Based on this observation, we reasoned that the most critical virulence determinants of L.p. are expressed by responding to stimuli generated by the protozoan host specifically; a process we term "protozoan-priming." We sought to identify L.p. virulence factors that were required for replication in amoebae in order to highlight the genes necessary for production of the most infectious form of the bacterium. Using a transposon mutagenesis screen, we successfully identified 12 insertions that produced bacteria severely attenuated for growth in amoebae, while retaining a functional Dot/Icm type IVb secretion system. Seven of these insertion mutants were found dispensable for growth in macrophages, revealing attractive therapeutic targets that reside upstream of the pathogen-human interface. Two candidates identified, lpg0730 and lpg0122 were required for survival and replication in amoebae and macrophage host cells. Both genes are conserved among numerous important human pathogenic bacteria that can persist or replicate in amoebae. Each gene encodes a component of an ATP binding cassette (ABC) transport complex of unknown function. We demonstrate the lpg0730 ortholog in Francisella tularensis subsp. novicida to be essential for colonization of both protozoan and mammalian host cells, highlighting conserved survival mechanisms employed by bacteria that utilize protozoa as an environmental reservoir for replication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number485
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 30 2017


  • ABC transporter
  • Acanthamoeba castellanii
  • Dot/Icm T4b secretion system
  • Francisella
  • Legionella
  • Macrophage
  • Pathogenesis
  • Transposon mutagenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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