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Quorum sensing modulates the formation of virulent Legionella persisters within infected cells


Personnic, Nicolas; Striednig, Bianca; Lezan, Emmanuelle; Manske, Christian; Welin, Amanda; Schmidt, Alexander; Hilbi, Hubert (2019). Quorum sensing modulates the formation of virulent Legionella persisters within infected cells. Nature Communications, 10(1):5216.

Abstract

The facultative intracellular bacterium Legionella pneumophila replicates in environmental amoebae and in lung macrophages, and causes Legionnaires' disease. Here we show that L. pneumophila reversibly forms replicating and nonreplicating subpopulations of similar size within amoebae. The nonreplicating bacteria are viable and metabolically active, display increased antibiotic tolerance and a distinct proteome, and show high virulence as well as the capacity to form a degradation-resistant compartment. Upon infection of naïve or interferon-γ-activated macrophages, the nonreplicating subpopulation comprises ca. 10% or 50%, respectively, of the total intracellular bacteria; hence, the nonreplicating subpopulation is of similar size in amoebae and activated macrophages. The numbers of nonreplicating bacteria within amoebae are reduced in the absence of the autoinducer synthase LqsA or other components of the Lqs quorum-sensing system. Our results indicate that virulent, antibiotic-tolerant subpopulations of L. pneumophila are formed during infection of evolutionarily distant phagocytes, in a process controlled by the Lqs system.

Abstract

The facultative intracellular bacterium Legionella pneumophila replicates in environmental amoebae and in lung macrophages, and causes Legionnaires' disease. Here we show that L. pneumophila reversibly forms replicating and nonreplicating subpopulations of similar size within amoebae. The nonreplicating bacteria are viable and metabolically active, display increased antibiotic tolerance and a distinct proteome, and show high virulence as well as the capacity to form a degradation-resistant compartment. Upon infection of naïve or interferon-γ-activated macrophages, the nonreplicating subpopulation comprises ca. 10% or 50%, respectively, of the total intracellular bacteria; hence, the nonreplicating subpopulation is of similar size in amoebae and activated macrophages. The numbers of nonreplicating bacteria within amoebae are reduced in the absence of the autoinducer synthase LqsA or other components of the Lqs quorum-sensing system. Our results indicate that virulent, antibiotic-tolerant subpopulations of L. pneumophila are formed during infection of evolutionarily distant phagocytes, in a process controlled by the Lqs system.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Microbiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Language:English
Date:18 November 2019
Deposited On:13 Feb 2020 15:51
Last Modified:12 Sep 2020 11:47
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-13021-8
PubMed ID:31740681

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