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Toxins (Basel). 2010 Jun;2(6):1515-35. doi: 10.3390/toxins2061515. Epub 2010 Jun 17.

Shiga toxins: intracellular trafficking to the ER leading to activation of host cell stress responses.

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Department of Microbial and Molecular Pathogenesis, Texas A & M Health Science Center, 407 Joe H. Reynolds Medical Building, College Station, TX, 77843-1114, USA.


Despite efforts to improve hygenic conditions and regulate food and drinking water safety, the enteric pathogens, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Shigella dysenteriae serotype 1 remain major public health concerns due to widespread outbreaks and the severity of extra-intestinal diseases they cause, including acute renal failure and central nervous system complications. Shiga toxins are the key virulence factors expressed by these pathogens mediating extra-intestinal disease. Delivery of the toxins to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) results in host cell protein synthesis inhibition, activation of the ribotoxic stress response, the ER stress response, and in some cases, the induction of apoptosis. Intrinsic and/or extrinsic apoptosis inducing pathways are involved in executing cell death following intoxication. In this review we provide an overview of the current understanding Shiga toxin intracellular trafficking, host cellular responses to the toxin and ER stress-induced apoptosis with an emphasis on recent findings.


ER stress response; Shiga toxins; apoptosis; retrograde transport; ribotoxic stress response

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