Legionella pneumophila LbtU acts as a novel, TonB-independent receptor for the legiobactin siderophore

Christa H. Chatfield, Brendan J. Mulhern, Denise M. Burnside, Nicholas P. Cianciotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Gram-negative Legionella pneumophila produces a siderophore (legiobactin) that promotes lung infection. We previously determined that lbtA and lbtB are required for the synthesis and secretion of legiobactin. DNA sequence and reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) analyses now reveal the presence of an iron-repressed gene (lbtU) directly upstream of the lbtAB-containing operon. In silico analysis predicted that LbtU is an outer membrane protein consisting of a 16-stranded transmembrane β-barrel, multiple extracellular domains, and short periplasmic tails. Immunoblot analysis of cell fractions confirmed an outer membrane location for LbtU. Although replicating normally in standard media, lbtU mutants, like lbtA mutants, were impaired for growth on iron-depleted agar media. While producing typical levels of legiobactin, lbtU mutants were unable to use supplied legiobactin to stimulate growth on iron-depleted media and displayed an inability to take up iron. Complemented lbtU mutants behaved as the wild type did. The lbtU mutants were also impaired for infection in a legiobactin-dependent manner. Together, these data indicate that LbtU is involved in the uptake of legiobactin and, based upon its location, is most likely the Legionella siderophore receptor. The sequence and predicted two-dimensional (2D) and 3D structures of LbtU were distinct from those of all known siderophore receptors, which generally contain a 22-stranded β-barrel and an extended N terminus that binds TonB in order to transduce energy from the inner membrane. This observation coupled with the fact that L. pneumophila does not encode TonB suggests that LbtU is a new type of receptor that participates in a form of iron uptake that is mechanistically distinct from the existing paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1575
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Legionella pneumophila LbtU acts as a novel, TonB-independent receptor for the legiobactin siderophore'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this