Cyclomodulins: bacterial effectors that modulate the eukaryotic cell cycle

Trends Microbiol. 2005 Mar;13(3):103-10. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2005.01.002.


Microbial pathogens have developed a variety of strategies to manipulate host-cell functions, presumably for their own benefit. We propose the term "cyclomodulins" to describe the growing family of bacterial toxins and effectors that interfere with the eukaryotic cell cycle. Inhibitory cyclomodulins, such as cytolethal distending toxins (CDTs) and the cycle inhibiting factor (Cif), block mitosis and might constitute powerful weapons for immune evasion by inhibiting clonal expansion of lymphocytes. Cell-cycle inhibitors might also impair epithelial-barrier integrity, allowing the entry of pathogenic bacteria into the body or prolonging their local existence by blocking the shedding of epithelia. Conversely, cyclomodulins that promote cellular proliferation, such as the cytotoxic necrotizing factor (CNF), exemplify another subversion mechanism by interfering with pathways of cell differentiation and development. The role of these cyclomodulins in bacterial virulence and carcinogenesis awaits further study and will delineate new perspectives in basic research and therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins / immunology*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / immunology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / immunology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Humans


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cif protein, E coli
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • cytolethal distending toxin
  • cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1