A Dot/Icm-translocated ankyrin protein of Legionella pneumophila is required for intracellular proliferation within human macrophages and protozoa

Souhaila Al-Khodor, Christopher T. Price, Fabien Habyarimana, Awdhesh Kalia, Yousef Abu Kwaik

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112 Citations (Scopus)


The Dot/Icm type IV secretion system of Legionella pneumophila translocates numerous bacterial effectors into the host cell and is essential for bacterial proliferation within macrophages and protozoa. We have recently shown that L. pneumophila strain AA100/130b harbours 11 genes encoding eukaryotic-like ankyrin (Ank) proteins, a family of proteins involved in various essential eukaryotic cellular processes. In contrast to most Dot/Icm-exported substrates, which have little or no detectable role in intracellular proliferation, a mutation in ankB results in a severe growth defect in intracellular replication within human monocyte-derived macrophages (hMDMs), U937 macrophages and Acanthamoeba polyphaga. Single cell analyses of coinfections of hMDMs have shown that the intracellular growth defect of the ankB mutant is totally rescued in cis within communal phagosomes harbouring the wild type strain. Interestingly, distinct from dot/icm structural mutants, the ankB mutant is also rescued in trans within cells harbouring the wild type strain in a different phagosome, indicating that AnkB is a trans-acting secreted effector. Using adenylate cyclase fusions to AnkB, we show that AnkB is translocated into the host cell via the Dot/Icm secretion system in an IcmSW-dependent manner and that the last three C-terminal amino acid residues are essential for translocation. Distinct from the dot/icm structural mutants, the ankB mutant-containing phagosomes exclude late endosomal and lysosomal markers and their phagosomes are remodelled by the rough endoplasmic reticulum. We show that at the postexponential phase of growth, the LetA/S and PmrA/B Two Component Systems confer a positive regulation on expression of the ankB gene, whereas RpoS, LetE and RelA suppress its expression. Our data show that the eukaryotic-like AnkB protein is a Dot/Icm-exported effector that plays a major role in intracellular replication of L. pneumophila within macrophages and protozoa, and its expression is temporally controlled by regulators of the postexponential phase of growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-923
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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