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Cell Microbiol. 2000 Apr;2(2):83-9.

Cross-talk between enteric pathogens and the intestine.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sassari, Italy.


Enteric pathogens finely regulate the expression of virulence genes in reply to stimuli generated by the intestinal environment. This minireview focuses on recently discovered strategies developed by enteric bacteria to cause intestinal secretion through the elaboration of factors that share structure and function with specific host counterparts. Such bacterial antigens appear to interfere largely with the epithelial cell signalling that physiologically regulates the numerous and, as yet not fully elucidated, mechanisms controlling both the transcellular and the paracellular secretion pathways. Heat-stable enterotoxins (STs) elaborated by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and the enteroaggregative E. coli enterotoxin (EAST1) are both typical examples of enteric toxins that activate the transcellular secretion pathway by mimicking guanylin, the endogenous modulator of cGMP signalling. Alternative strategies have been developed by Salmonella to induce intestinal secretion through the elaboration of a factor (SopB) that resembles at least two of the host cell 4-phosphatases, enzymes that activate the Ca-dependent transcellular secretion pathway. Finally, Vibrio cholerae has developed innovative tactics to activate the paracellular secretion pathway through the elaboration of Zonula occludens toxin (Zot), a factor that mimics a recently described physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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