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Minimization of the Legionella pneumophila genome reveals chromosomal regions involved in host range expansion

By Tamara J. O’Connor, Yewande Adepoju, Dana Boyd and Ralph R. Isberg


Legionella pneumophila is a bacterial pathogen of amoebae and humans. Intracellular growth requires a type IVB secretion system that translocates at least 200 different proteins into host cells. To distinguish between proteins necessary for growth in culture and those specifically required for intracellular replication, a screen was performed to identify genes necessary for optimal growth in nutrient-rich medium. Mapping of these genes revealed that the L. pneumophila chromosome has a modular architecture consisting of several large genomic islands that are dispensable for growth in bacteriological culture. Strains lacking six of these regions, and thus 18.5% of the genome, were viable but required secondary point mutations for optimal growth. The simultaneous deletion of five of these genomic loci had no adverse effect on growth of the bacterium in nutrient-rich media. Remarkably, this minimal genome strain, which lacked 31% of the known substrates of the type IVB system, caused only marginal defects in intracellular growth within mouse macrophages. In contrast, deletion of single regions reduced growth within amoebae. The importance of individual islands, however, differed among amoebal species. The host-specific requirements of these genomic islands support a model in which the acquisition of foreign DNA has broadened the L. pneumophila host range

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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