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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2006 Sep;30(5):774-805.

The protein secretion systems in Listeria: inside out bacterial virulence.

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Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Centre de Recherche Clermont-Ferrand-Theix-Lyon, UR 454 Microbiologie, Equipe Qualité et Sécurité des Aliments (QuaSA), Saint-Genès Champanelle, France.


Listeria monocytogenes, the etiologic agent of listeriosis, remains a serious public health concern with its frequent occurrence in food coupled with a high mortality rate. The capacity of a bacterium to secrete proteins to or beyond the bacterial cell surface is of crucial importance in the understanding of biofilm formation and bacterial pathogenesis to further develop defensive strategies. Recent findings in protein secretion in Listeria together with the availability of complete genome sequences of several pathogenic L. monocytogenes strains, as well as nonpathogenic Listeria innocua Clip11262, prompted us to summarize the listerial protein secretion systems. Protein secretion would rely essentially on the Sec (Secretion) pathway. The twin-arginine translocation pathway seems encoded in all but one sequenced Listeria. In addition, a functional flagella export apparatus, a fimbrilin-protein exporter, some holins and a WXG100 secretion system are encoded in listerial genomes. This critical review brings new insights into the physiology and virulence of Listeria species.

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