IroT/mavN, a new iron-regulated gene involved in Legionella pneumophila virulence against amoebae and macrophages

Emilie Portier, Huaixin Zheng, Tobias Sahr, Denise M. Burnside, Celeste Mallama, Carmen Buchrieser, Nicholas P. Cianciotto, Yann Héchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Summary: Legionella pneumophila is a pathogenic bacterium commonly found in water. Eventually, it could be transmitted to humans via inhalation of contaminated aerosols. Iron is known as a key requirement for the growth of L.pneumophila in the environment and within its hosts. Many studies were performed to understand iron utilization by L.pneumophila but no global approaches were conducted. In this study, transcriptomic analyses were performed, comparing gene expression in L.pneumophila in standard versus iron restricted conditions. Among the regulated genes, a newly described one, lpp_2867, was highly induced in iron-restricted conditions. Mutants lacking this gene in L.pneumophila were not affected in siderophore synthesis or utilization. On the contrary, they were defective for growth on iron-depleted solid media and for ferrous iron uptake. A sequence analysis predicts that Lpp_2867 is a membrane protein, suggesting that it is involved in ferrous iron transport. We thus named it IroT, for iron transporter. Infection assays showed that the mutants are highly impaired in intracellular growth within their environmental host Acanthamoeba castellanii and human macrophages. Taken together, our results show that IroT is involved, directly or indirectly, in ferrous iron transport and is a key virulence factor for L.pneumophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1338-1350
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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