The C-terminus of IcmT is essential for pore formation and for intracellular trafficking of Legionella pneumophila within Acanthamoeba polyphaga

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Mar;43(5):1139-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.02842.x.


We have shown previously that the five rib (release of intracellular bacteria) mutants of Legionella pneumophila are competent for intracellular replication but defective in pore formation-mediated cytolysis and egress from protozoan and mammalian cells. The rib phenotype results from a point mutation (deletion) DeltaG544 in icmT that is predicted to result in the expression of a protein truncated by 32 amino acids from the C-terminus. In contrast to the rib mutants that are capable of intracellular replication, an icmT null mutant was completely defective in intracellular replication within mammalian and protozoan cells, in addition to its defect in pore formation-mediated cytolysis. The icmT wild-type allele complemented the icmT null mutant for both defects of intracellular replication and pore formation-mediated cytolysis and egress from mammalian cells. In contrast, the icmTDeltaG544 allele complemented the icmT null mutant for intracellular growth, but not for the pore-forming activity. Consistent with their defect in pore formation-mediated cytotoxicity in vitro, both mutants failed to cause pulmonary inflammation in A/J mice. Interestingly, the rib mutant was severely defective in intracellular growth within Acanthamoeba polyphaga. Confocal laser scanning and electron microscopy confirmed that the rib mutant and the icmT null mutant were severely and completely defective, respectively, in intracellular growth in A. polyphaga, and the respective defects correlated with fusion of the bacterial phagosomes to lysosomes. Taken together, the data showed that the C-terminus domain of IcmT is essential for the pore-forming activity and is required for intracellular trafficking and replication within A. polyphaga, but not within mammalian cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Legionella pneumophila / growth & development
  • Legionella pneumophila / metabolism
  • Legionella pneumophila / pathogenicity*
  • Legionnaires' Disease / microbiology
  • Lysosomes / microbiology
  • Lysosomes / physiology
  • Mice
  • Phagosomes / microbiology
  • Phagosomes / physiology
  • U937 Cells / microbiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • icmT protein, Legionella pneumophila