The Legionella pneumophila IcmS–LvgA protein complex is important for Dot/Icm-dependent intracellular growth

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Abstract

Summary

Many bacterial pathogens require a functional type IV secretion system (T4SS) for virulence. Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, employs the Dot/Icm T4SS to inject a large number of protein substrates into its host, thereby altering phagosome trafficking. The L. pneumophila T4SS substrate SdeA has been shown to require the accessory factor IcmS for its export. IcmS, defined as a type IV adaptor, exists as a heterodimer with IcmW and this complex functions in a manner similar to a type III secretion chaperone. Here we report an interaction between IcmS and the previously identified virulence factor LvgA. Similar to the icmS mutant, the lvgA mutant appears to assemble a fully functional Dot/Icm complex. Both LvgA and IcmS are small, acidic proteins localized to the cytoplasm and are not exported by the Dot/Icm system, suggesting they form a novel type IV adaptor complex. Inactivation of lvgA causes a minimal defect in growth in the human monocytic cell line U937 and the environmental host Acanthamoeba castellanii. However, the lvgA mutant was severely attenuated for intracellular growth of L. pneumophila in mouse macrophages, suggesting LvgA may be a critical factor that confers host specificity.

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