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J Inflamm (Lond). 2011 May 3;8:11. doi: 10.1186/1476-9255-8-11.

Always one step ahead: How pathogenic bacteria use the type III secretion system to manipulate the intestinal mucosal immune system.

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  • 1Centre for Immunology and Infectious Disease, Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.


The intestinal immune system and the epithelium are the first line of defense in the gut. Constantly exposed to microorganisms from the environment, the gut has complex defense mechanisms to prevent infections, as well as regulatory pathways to tolerate commensal bacteria and food antigens. Intestinal pathogens have developed strategies to regulate intestinal immunity and inflammation in order to establish or prolong infection. The organisms that employ a type III secretion system use a molecular syringe to deliver effector proteins into the cytoplasm of host cells. These effectors target the host cell cytoskeleton, cell organelles and signaling pathways. This review addresses the multiple mechanisms by which the type III secretion system targets the intestinal immune response, with a special focus on pathogenic E. coli.

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