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Trends Microbiol. 2011 Dec;19(12):573-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2011.08.003. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Anchoring of bacterial effectors to host membranes through host-mediated lipidation by prenylation: a common paradigm.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Post-translational lipidation by prenylation of the CaaX-box C-terminal motif in eukaryotic proteins facilitates anchoring of hydrophilic proteins, such as Ras and Rab, to membranes. A large cadre of bacterial effectors injected into host cells is anchored to host membranes by unknown mechanisms. As already documented for Legionella and Salmonella, we propose a common paradigm of microbial exploitation of the host prenylation machinery for anchoring of injected effectors to host membranes. This is supported by numerous potential microbial CaaX-box-containing proteins identified using refined bioinformatic tools. We also propose utilization of the CaaX motif as a membrane-targeting tag for proteins expressed in eukaryotic cells to facilitate deciphering of biological function.

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