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Immunol Rev. 1999 Apr;168:241-55.

Type III secretion machines and the pathogenesis of enteric infections caused by Yersinia and Salmonella spp.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology, UCLA School of Medicine, USA.


Salmonella and Yersinia spp. infect the intestinal tract of humans. Although these organisms cause fundamentally different diseases, each pathogen relies on type III secretion machines to either inject virulence factors into the cytosol of eukaryotic cells or release toxins into the extracellular milieu. Type III secretion machines are composed of many different subunits and export several polypeptides with unique substrate requirements. During Salmonella pathogenesis, the type III machine encoded by the Salmonella pathogenicity island (SPI)-1 genetic element functions to cause invasion of the intestinal epithelium, whereas another type III machine (SPI-2) is required for survival in macrophages. Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis employ type III machines to resist macrophage phagocytosis and to manipulate the host's immune response, thereby colonizing intestinal lymphoid tissues. We describe what is known about the pathogenic functions of virulence factors secreted by type III machines. Furthermore, type III secretion machines may be exploited for the injection of recombinant proteins, a strategy that has already been successfully employed to elicit a cell-mediated immune response.

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