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Cell Microbiol. 2000 Feb;2(1):1-9.

Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC) attachment to epithelial cells: exploiting the host cell cytoskeleton from the outside.

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Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), a leading cause of human infantile diarrhoea, is the prototype for a family of intestinal bacterial pathogens that induce attaching and effacing (A/E) lesions on host cells. A/E lesions are characterized by localized effacement of the brush border of enterocytes, intimate bacterial attachment and pedestal formation beneath the adherent bacteria. As a result of some recent breakthrough discoveries, EPEC has now emerged as a fascinating paradigm for the study of host-pathogen interactions and cytoskeletal rearrangements that occur at the host cell membrane. EPEC uses a type III secretion machinery to attach to epithelial cells, translocating its own receptor for intimate attachment, Tir, into the host cell, which then binds to intimin on the bacterial surface. Studies of EPEC-induced cytoskeletal rearrangements have begun to provide clues as to the mechanisms used by this pathogen to subvert the host cell cytoskeleton and signalling pathways. These findings have unravelled new ways by which pathogenic bacteria exploit host processes from the cell surface and have shed new light on how EPEC might cause diarrhoea.

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