Characterization of a new region required for macrophage killing by Legionella pneumophila

Gil Segal, Howard A. Shuman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a previous study, a collection of 55 Legionella pneumophila mutants defective for macrophage killing was isolated by transposon mutagenesis. In this study, nine of these mutants that belong to the same DNA hybridization group (group 3) were characterized. A wild-type DNA fragment that covers this DNA hybridization group was cloned and sequenced. This region was found to contain six new genes (designated icmT, icmS, icmR, icmQ, icmP, and icmO), five of which contain at least one transposon insertion. No transposon insertion was found in icmS. However, this gene was found to be required for macrophage killing, since a kanamycin resistance cassette introduced into icmS by gene replacement resulted in a mutant that was attenuated for macrophage killing. A plasmid containing the DNA fragment that covers this region complements all the mutants for macrophage killing, although various levels of complementation were observed for mutants in different genes. Complementation tests were also performed with plasmids containing one or two of these genes, as well as with plasmids containing nonpolar in-frame deletions. The results from these complementation tests indicated that all six genes located in this region are needed for macrophage killing and that they are probably arranged as two transcriptional units (icmTS and icmPO) and two genes (icmR and icmQ). A region upstream of the coding sequence of several icm genes may contain a potential promoter and/or regulatory site. Homology searches show that icmP and icmO bear significant homology to the trbA and trbC genes from the Salmonella R64 plasmid, respectively. The sequences of the other four genes do not show significant homology with any entries in sequence databases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5057-5066
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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