Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, is a Gram-negative gammaproteobacterial pathogen that infects and intracellularly replicates in human macrophages and a variety of protozoa. L. pneumophila encodes an orphan biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) that contains isocyanide-associated biosynthetic genes and is upregulated during infection. Because isocyanide-functionalized metabolites are known to harbor invertebrate innate immunosuppressive activities in bacterial pathogen-insect interactions, we used pathway-targeted molecular networking and tetrazine-based chemoseletive ligation chemistry to characterize the metabolites from the orphan pathway in L. pneumophila. We also assessed their intracellular growth contributions in an amoeba and in murine bone-marrow-derived macrophages. Unexpectedly, two distinct groups of aromatic amino acid-derived metabolites were identified from the pathway, including a known tyrosine-derived isocyanide and a family of new N-acyl-l-histidine metabolites.
Keywords: legionellosis; metabolomics; natural product; pneumonia; secondary metabolism.
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