Formation of a fibrous structure on the surface of Legionella pneumophila associated with exposure of DotH and DotO proteins after intracellular growth. Academic Article uri icon


  • Legionella pneumophila grows in human alveolar macrophages and resides within a phagosome that initially lacks proteins associated with the endocytic pathway. Required for targeting to this unique location is the Dot/Icm complex, which is highly similar to conjugative DNA transfer apparatuses. Here, we show that exposure to three distinct inducing conditions resulted in the formation of a fibrous structure on the bacterial cell surface that contained the DotH and DotO proteins. These conditions included: (i) incubation for 2 h with mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages; (ii) incubation for 2 h in macrophage-conditioned media; or (iii) replication of bacteria for 22 h within macrophages. Introduction of bacteria harbouring the surface-exposed DotH and DotO onto a fresh monolayer resulted in loss of the surface localization of DotH and DotO shortly after uptake. Treatments that resulted in the production of the fibrous structure enhanced the rate at which the bacteria were internalized, but there was no corresponding increase in the efficiency of intracellular growth compared with bacteria that had been cultured in broth using conditions that resulted in maximal intracellular growth. These data indicate that the surface-exposed DotH and DotO on L. pneumophila may act either just before lysis from the macrophage or at the earliest stages of infection, transiently relocating in a fibrous structure on the bacterial cell surface.

published proceedings

  • Mol Microbiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Watarai, M., Andrews, H. L., & Isberg, R. R.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Watarai, M||Andrews, HL||Isberg, RR

publication date

  • January 2001