Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 22545684
Link to DOI – 10.1042/BJ20120528
Biochem J 2012 Jul; 445(2): 219-28
Legionella pneumophila is an opportunistic pathogen and the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease. Despite being exposed to many chemical compounds in its natural and man-made habitats (natural aquatic biotopes and man-made water systems), L. pneumophila is able to adapt and survive in these environments. The molecular mechanisms by which this bacterium detoxifies these chemicals remain poorly understood. In particular, the expression and functions of XMEs (xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes) that could contribute to chemical detoxification in L. pneumophila have been poorly documented at the molecular and functional levels. In the present paper we report the identification and biochemical and functional characterization of a unique acetyltransferase that metabolizes aromatic amine chemicals in three characterized clinical strains of L. pneumophila (Paris, Lens and Philadelphia). Strain-specific sequence variations in this enzyme, an atypical member of the arylamine N-acetyltransferase family (EC 220.127.116.11), produce enzymatic variants with different structural and catalytic properties. Functional inactivation and complementation experiments showed that this acetyltransferase allows L. pneumophila to detoxify aromatic amine chemicals and grow in their presence. The present study provides a new enzymatic mechanism by which the opportunistic pathogen L. pneumophila biotransforms and detoxifies toxic aromatic chemicals. These data also emphasize the role of XMEs in the environmental adaptation of certain prokaryotes.