Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19659425
Future Microbiol 2009 Aug;4(6):691-701
It is 32 years since Legionella pneumophila was identified and recognized as a human pathogen, causing the severe form of pneumonia termed Legionnaires’ disease, or legionellosis. This bacterium is found in freshwater reservoirs where it replicates in aquatic protozoa and can invade man-made water distribution systems. Although the disease can be treated by antibiotherapy and prevented through surveillance and control measures, reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease continue to rise across Europe and outbreaks of major public health significance still occur. Genome sequencing and analyses led to a giant step forward by suggesting new ways by which this intracellular bacterium might subvert host functions. One particular feature revealed was the presence of many eukaryotic-like proteins, possibly mimicking host proteins to allow intracellular replication of Legionella. Here, we describe the identification and analysis of these proteins and report on recent advances detailing the mechanisms by which these proteins function. Finally, comparative and evolutionary genomic aspects regarding the eukaryotic-like proteins are presented. Collectively, these data have shed new light on the virulence strategies of L. pneumophila, a major aspect of which is molecular mimicry.