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Bioessays. 1993 Jan;15(1):17-24.

Exploitation of host signal transduction pathways and cytoskeletal functions by invasive bacteria.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Many bacteria that cause disease have the capacity to enter into and live within eukaryotic cells such as epithelial cells and macrophages. The mechanisms used by these organisms to achieve and maintain this intracellular lifestyle vary considerably, but most mechanisms involve subversion and exploitation of host cell functions. Entry into non-phagocytic cells involves triggering host signal transduction mechanisms to induce rearrangement of the host cytoskeleton, thereby facilitating bacterial uptake. Once inside the host cell, intracellular pathogens either remain within membrane bound inclusions or escape to the cytoplasm. Those living in the cytoplasm can further pirate the host actin system, using actin as a mechanism to facilitate movement within and between host cells. Organisms remaining within the vacuole have specialized mechanisms for intracellular survival and growth which involve additional communication with the host cell. Some of the processes involved in the various steps of facultative intracellular parasitism are discussed in the context of subverting the host cell cytoskeleton and signal transduction pathways for bacterial benefit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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