Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 23732852
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2013 Jun;3(6)
Legionella pneumophila is a bacterial pathogen present in aquatic environments that can cause a severe pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. Soon after its recognition, it was shown that Legionella replicates inside amoeba, suggesting that bacteria replicating in environmental protozoa are able to exploit conserved signaling pathways in human phagocytic cells. Comparative, evolutionary, and functional genomics suggests that the Legionella-amoeba interaction has shaped this pathogen more than previously thought. A complex evolutionary scenario involving mobile genetic elements, type IV secretion systems, and horizontal gene transfer among Legionella, amoeba, and other organisms seems to take place. This long-lasting coevolution led to the development of very sophisticated virulence strategies and a high level of temporal and spatial fine-tuning of bacteria host-cell interactions. We will discuss current knowledge of the evolution of virulence of Legionella from a genomics perspective and propose our vision of the emergence of this human pathogen from the environment.