Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 37155695
Link to DOI – 10.1371/journal.ppat.1011375
PLoS Pathog 2023 May; 19(5): e1011375
The zebrafish has become a powerful model organism to study host-pathogen interactions. Here, we developed a zebrafish model to dissect the innate immune response to Legionella pneumophila during infection. We show that L. pneumophila cause zebrafish larvae death in a dose dependent manner. Additionally, we show that macrophages are the first line of defence and cooperate with neutrophils to clear the infection. Immunocompromised humans have an increased propensity to develop pneumonia, when either macrophages or neutrophils are depleted, these “immunocompromised” larvae become lethally sensitive to L. pneumophila. Also, as observed in human infections, the adaptor signalling molecule Myd88 is not required to control disease in the larvae. Furthermore, proinflammatory cytokine genes il1β and tnf-α were upregulated during infection, recapitulating key immune responses seen in human infection. Strikingly, we uncovered a previously undescribed infection phenotype in zebrafish larvae, whereby bloodborne, wild type L. pneumophila invade and grow in the larval yolk region, a phenotype not observed with a type IV secretion system deficient mutant that cannot translocate effectors into its host cell. Thus, zebrafish larva represents an innovative L. pneumophila infection model that mimics important aspects of the human immune response to L. pneumophila infection and will allow the elucidation of mechanisms by which type IV secretion effectors allow L. pneumophila to cross host cell membranes and obtain nutrients from nutrient rich environments.