Reassessing the Role of DotF in the Legionella pneumophila Type IV Secretion System

Molly C. Sutherland, Kelsey A. Binder, Phillip Y. Cualing, Joseph P. Vogel

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9 Scopus citations


Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of a severe pneumonia termed Legionnaires' Disease, survives and replicates within both protozoan hosts and human alveolar macrophages. Intracellular survival is dependent upon secretion of a plethora of protein effectors that function to form a replicative vacuole, evade the endocytic pathway and subvert host immune defenses. Export of these factors requires a type IV secretion system (T4SS) called Dot/Icm that is composed of twenty-seven proteins. This report focuses on the DotF protein, which was previously postulated to have several different functions, one of which centered on binding Dot/Icm substrates. In this report, we examined if DotF functions as the T4SS inner membrane receptor for Dot/Icm substrates. Although we were able to recapitulate the previously published bacterial two-hybrid interaction between DotF and several substrates, the interaction was not dependent on the Dot/Icm substrates' signal sequences as predicted for a substrate:receptor interaction. In addition, binding did not require the cytoplasmic domain of DotF, which was anticipated to be involved in recognizing substrates in the cytoplasm. Finally, inactivation of dotF did not abolish intracellular growth of L. pneumophila or translocation of substrates, two phenotypes dependent on the T4SS receptor. These data strongly suggest that DotF does not act as the major receptor for Dot/Icm substrates and therefore likely performs an accessory function within the core-transmembrane subcomplex of the L. pneumophila Dot/Icm type IV secretion system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65529
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 7 2013


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