LegioProTect: Profiling pathogen-host interactomes coordinating Legionella survival strategies

  • Prof. Dr. Michael Steinert, Institut für Mikrobiologie, TU Braunschweig

Project Partners:
  • PD Dr. Antje Flieger, Robert-Koch-Institut, Wernigerode
  • PD Dr. Torsten Goldmann, Forschungszentrum Borstel
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Hecker, Institut für Mikrobiologie, Universität Greifswald
  • Dr. Lothar Jänsch, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig

Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires´ disease is widespread in aquatic habitats. Human infection occurs by inhalation of Legionella-containing aerosols. A specific feature of Legionella is its dual host system allowing the intracellular growth in protozoa and in alveolar macrophages. L. pneumophila can develop three distinct physiological stages which differ in their pathogenic potential: The exponential non-virulent replicative phase (RP), the stationary highly virulent transmissive phase (TP) and the viable but non culturable (VBNC) dormancy phase. VBNC bacteria represent the prevalent fraction of L. pneumophila in the aquatic environment and constitute an unrecognized reservoir for disease since the bacteria are not culturable on diagnostic media but can be resuscitated by host protozoa.

In the framework of ´´LegioProTect´´, our aim is to characterize the survival strategies of L. pneumophila in the environment and the host modulation during infection. A systematic proteomic comparison of the different Legionella-forms (RP, TP, VBNC) will help to enlighten the molecular mechanisms of bacterial survival strategies. Moreover, we will analyze the infection risk imposed by the different Legionella-forms, the host reaction to these different forms and the VBNC resuscitation process. To achive this the phosphoproteome in infected host cells and after ex vivo infection of human lung tissue sections explanted from tumor patients will be determined. The expected outcome of ´´LegioProTect´´ will improve our understanding of the pathogen-host interaction. Especially the elucidation of new markers of non-culturable L. pneumophilawill help to refine their detection in the environment and to elaborate criteria for risk assessments in drinking water.

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