A panel of cytochrome c maturation (ccm) mutants of Legionella pneumophila displayed a loss of siderophore (legiobactin) expression, as measured by both the chrome azurol S assay and a Legionella-specific bioassay. These data, coupled with the finding that ccm transcripts are expressed by wild-type bacteria grown in deferrated medium, indicate that the Ccm system promotes siderophore expression by L. pneumophila. To determine the basis of this newfound role for Ccm, we constructed and tested a set of mutants specifically lacking individual c-type cytochromes. Whereas ubiquinol-cytochrome c reductase (petC) mutants specifically lacking cytochrome c1 and cycB mutants lacking cytochrome c5 had normal siderophore expression, cyc4 mutants defective for cytochrome c4 completely lacked legiobactin. These data, along with the expression pattern of cyc4 mRNA, indicate that cytochrome c4 in particular promotes siderophore expression. In intracellular infection assays, petC mutants and cycB mutants, but not cyc4 mutants, had a reduced ability to infect both amoebae and macrophage hosts. Like ccm mutants, the cycB mutants were completely unable to grow in amoebae, highlighting a major role for cytochrome c5 in intracellular infection. To our knowledge, these data represent both the first direct documentation of the importance of a c-type cytochrome in expression of a biologically active siderophore and the first insight into the relative importance of c-type cytochromes in intracellular infection events.
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