Two fis regulators directly repress the expression of numerous effector-encoding genes in Legionella pneumophila

Tal Zusman, Yariv Speiser, Gil Segal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular human pathogen that utilizes the Icm/Dot type IVB secretion system to translocate a large repertoire of effectors into host cells. For most of these effectors, there is no information regarding their regulation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the involvement of the three L. pneumophila Fis homologs in the regulation of effector- encoding genes. Deletion mutants constructed in the genes encoding the three Fis regulators revealed that Fis1 (lpg0542 gene) and Fis3 (lpg1743) but not Fis2 (lpg1370) are partially required for intracellular growth of L. pneumophila in Acanthamoeba castellanii. To identify pathogenesis-related genes directly regulated by Fis, we established a novel in vivo system which resulted in the discovery of numerous effector-encoding genes directly regulated by Fis. Further examination of these genes revealed that Fis1 and Fis3 repress the level of expression of effector-encoding genes during exponential phase. Three groups of effector-encoding genes were identified: (i) effectors regulated mainly by Fis1, (ii) effectors regulated mainly by Fis3, and (iii) effectors regulated by both Fis1 and Fis3. Examination of the upstream regulatory region of all of these effector-encoding genes revealed multiple putative Fis regulatory elements, and site-directed mutagenesis confirmed that a few of these sites constitute part of a repressor binding element. Furthermore, gel mobility shift assays demonstrated the direct relation between the Fis1 and Fis3 regulators and these regulatory elements. Collectively, our results demonstrate for the first time that two of the three L. pneumophila Fis regulators directly repress the expression of Icm/Dot effector-encoding genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4172-4183
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2014


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