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Int Microbiol. 2004 Sep;7(3):181-91.

Hijacking of eukaryotic functions by intracellular bacterial pathogens.

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Department of Microbial Biotechnology, National Center for Biotechnology, CSIC, Madrid, Spain.


Intracellular bacterial pathogens have evolved as a group of microorganisms endowed with weapons to hijack many biological processes of eukaryotic cells. This review discusses how these pathogens perturb diverse host cell functions, such as cytoskeleton dynamics and organelle vesicular trafficking. Alteration of the cytoskeleton is discussed in the context of the bacterial entry process (invasion), which occurs either by activation of membrane-located host receptors ("zipper" mechanism) or by injection of bacterial proteins into the host cell cytosol ("trigger" mechanism). In addition, the two major types of intracellular lifestyles, cytosolic versus intravacuolar (phagosomal), which are the consequence of alterations in the phagosome-lysosome maturation route, are compared. Specific examples illustrating known mechanisms of mimicry or hijacking of the host target are provided. Finally, recent advances in phagosome proteomics and genome expression in intracellular bacteria are described. These new technologies are yielding valuable clues as to how these specialized bacterial pathogens manipulate the mammalian host cell.

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