Bacterial cytotoxins: targeting eukaryotic switches

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2005 May;3(5):397-410. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1150.


Many bacterial cytotoxins act on eukaryotic cells by targeting the regulators that are involved in controlling the cytoskeleton or by directly modifying actin, with members of the Rho GTPase family being particularly important targets. The actin cytoskeleton, and especially the GTPase 'molecular switches' that are involved in its control, have crucial functions in innate and adaptive immunity, and have pivotal roles in the biology of infection. In this review, we briefly discuss the role of the actin cytoskeleton and the Rho GTPases in host-pathogen interactions, and review the mode of actions of bacterial protein toxins that target these components.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Toxins / toxicity*
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Tight Junctions / physiology
  • Tight Junctions / ultrastructure
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cytotoxins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins