The iron superoxide dismutase of Legionella pneumophila is essential for viability

A. B. Sadosky, J. W. Wilson, H. M. Steinman, H. A. Shuman

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22 Scopus citations


Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease, contains two superoxide dismutases (SODs), a cytoplasmic iron enzyme (FeSOD) and a periplasmic copper-zinc SOD. To study the role of the FeSOD in L. pneumophila, the cloned FeSOD gene (sodB) was inactivated with Tn903dIIlacZ, forming a sodB::lacZ gene fusion. By using this fusion, expression of sodB was shown to be unaffected by a variety of conditions, including several that influence sod expression in Escherichia coli: aeration, oxidants, the redox cycling compound paraquat, manipulation of iron levels in the medium, and the stage of growth. A reproducible twofold decrease in sodB expression was found during growth on agar medium containing charcoal, a potential scavenger of oxyradicals, in comparison with growth on the same medium without charcoal. No induction was seen during growth in human macrophages. Additional copies of sodB+ in trans increased resistance to paraquat. Construction of a sodB mutant was attempted by allelic exchange of the sodB::lacZ fusion with the chromosomal copy of sodB. The mutant could not be isolated, and the allelic exchange was possible only if wild-type sodB was present in trans. These results indicate that the periplasmic copper-zinc SOD cannot replace the FeSOD. The data strongly suggest that sodB is an essential gene and that FeSOD is required for the viability of L. pneumophila. In contrast, Sod- mutants of E. coli and Streptococcus mutans grow aerobically and SOD is not required for viability in these species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3790-3799
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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