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Cell Host Microbe. 2012 Oct 18;12(4):419-31. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2012.09.001.

Subversion of phagocytosis for pathogen survival.

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Cell Biology Program, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada.


Professional phagocytes, such as neutrophils and macrophages, effectively engulf and eliminate invading microorganisms. To survive this onslaught, pathogens have developed an astounding array of countermeasures aimed at avoiding detection, impairing signaling, or paralyzing the machinery that underlies phagocytosis. On the other hand, certain pathogens benefit from attaching to, entering, or traversing host cells to establish and spread infection. This is accomplished by yet other types of effectors that either co-opt or mimic host cell phagocytic components. Here, we briefly summarize the basic features of the phagocytic process and proceed to describe the types of strategies deployed by pathogens to either impair phagocytosis or to gain entry into cells where they can establish a safe survival niche.

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