The Gram-negative facultative intracellular pathogen Legionella pneumophila infects a wide range of different protozoa in the environment and also human alveolar macrophages upon inhalation of contaminated aerosols. Inside its hosts, it creates a defined and unique compartment, termed the Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV), for survival and replication. To establish the LCV, L. pneumophila uses its Dot/Icm type IV secretion system (T4SS) to translocate more than 300 effector proteins into the host cell. Although it has become apparent in the past years that these effectors subvert a multitude of cellular processes and allow Legionella to take control of host cell vesicle trafficking, transcription, and translation, the exact function of the vast majority of effectors still remains unknown. This is partly due to high functional redundancy among the effectors, which renders conventional genetic approaches to elucidate their role ineffective. Here, we review the current knowledge about Legionella T4SS effectors, highlight open questions, and discuss new methods that promise to facilitate the characterization of T4SS effector functions in the future.
- Legionella-containing vacuole
- Type IV secretion system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Molecular Biology