Genome Biology and Evolution, evz186
The Dot/Icm type IVB secretion system of Legionella pneumophila is essential for its pathogenesis by delivering >300 effector proteins into the host cell. However, their precise secretion mechanism and which components interact with the host cell is only partly understood. Here we undertook evolutionary analyses of the Dot/Icm system of 58 Legionella species to identify those components that interact with the host and/or the substrates. We show that high recombination rates are acting on DotA, DotG and IcmX, supporting exposure of these proteins to the host. Specific aminoacids under positive selection on the periplasmic region of DotF, and the cytoplasmic domain of DotM, support a role of these regions in substrate binding. Diversifying selection acting on the signal peptide of DotC suggests its interaction with the host after cleavage. Positive selection acts on IcmR, IcmQ and DotL, revealing that these components are probably participating in effector recognition and/or translocation. Furthermore, our results predict the participation in host/effector interaction of DotV and IcmF. In contrast, DotB, DotO, most of the core subcomplex elements and the chaperones IcmS-W, show a high degree of conservation and not signs of recombination or positive selection suggesting that these proteins are under strong structural constraints and have an important role in maintaining the architecture/function of the system. Thus, our analyses of recombination and positive selection acting on the Dot/Icm secretion system, predicted specific Dot/Icm components and regions implicated in host interaction and/or substrate recognition and translocation, which will guide further functional analyses.