Pore-forming activity is not sufficient for Legionella pneumophila phagosome trafficking and intracellular growth

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Jun;32(5):990-1001. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01410.x.


Bacterial pathogens often subvert eukaryotic cellular processes in order to establish a replicative niche and evade host immunity. Inhibition of phagosome lysosome fusion is a strategy used by several intracellular bacteria that grow within mammalian cells. It was shown recently that Legionella pneumophila possesses a cytolytic activity that results from the insertion of pores in the macrophage membrane upon contact, and that this activity requires the dot/icm gene products, which are necessary for intracellular growth and phagosome trafficking. Other bacteria that inhibit phagosome lysosome fusion, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, demonstrate similar cytolytic activities, which suggests that formation of pores in the phagosome membrane may account for the defects observed in phagosome trafficking. In this study, we identify a new class of L. pneumophila mutant that retains the pore-forming activity found in virulent bacteria, but is defective in phagosome lysosome fusion inhibition and intracellular growth. These data indicate that cytolytic activity is not sufficient for L. pneumophila-induced alterations in phagosome trafficking. Rather, the pore may be a vehicle that facilitates delivery of bacterial-derived effector molecules to the host cell cytoplasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Immunoblotting
  • Legionella pneumophila / genetics
  • Legionella pneumophila / growth & development*
  • Legionella pneumophila / pathogenicity*
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Phagosomes / microbiology
  • Phagosomes / physiology*
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins