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Intracellular parasitism, the driving force of evolution of Legionella pneumophila and the genus Legionella

Abstract : Legionella pneumophila is an intracellular pathogen that causes a severe pneumonia called Legionnaires' disease that is often fatal when not promptly diagnosed and treated. Legionella parasitize aquatic protozoa with which it co-evolved over an evolutionary long time. The close relationship between hosts and pathogens, their co-evolution, led to molecular interactions such as the exchange of genetic material through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Genome sequencing of L. pneumophila and of the entire genus Legionella that comprises over 60 species revealed that Legionellae have co-opted genes and thus cellular functions from their eukaryotic hosts to a surprisingly high extent. Acquisition and loss of these eukaryotic-like genes and domains is an on-going process underlining the highly dynamic nature of the Legionella genomes. Although the large amount and diversity of HGT in Legionella seems to be unique in the prokaryotic world the analyses of more and more genomes from environmental organisms and symbionts of amoeba revealed that such genetic exchanges occur among all amoeba associated bacteria and also among the different microorganisms that infect amoeba. This dynamic reshuffling and gene-acquisition has led to the emergence of Legionella as human pathogen and may lead to the emergence of new human pathogens from the environment.
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Laure Gomez-Valero, Carmen Buchrieser. Intracellular parasitism, the driving force of evolution of Legionella pneumophila and the genus Legionella. Microbes and Infection, Elsevier, 2019, 21 (5-6), pp.230-236. ⟨10.1016/j.micinf.2019.06.012⟩. ⟨pasteur-02895319⟩



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