Legionella pneumophila, the bacterial agent of legionnaires' disease, replicates intracellularly within a specialized vacuole of mammalian and protozoan host cells. Little is known about the specialized vacuole except that the Icm/Dot type IV secretion system is essential for its formation and maintenance. The Legionella genome database contains two open reading frames encoding polypeptides (LepA and LepB) with predicted coiled-coil regions and weak homology to SNAREs; these are delivered to host cells by an Icm/Dot - dependent mechanism. Analysis of mutant strains suggests that the Lep proteins may enable the Legionella to commandeer a protozoan exocytic pathway for dissemination of the pathogen.
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