In order to survive inside the host cell, bacterial pathogens have evolved a variety of mechanisms to avoid or interfere with innate immune defenses. Several reports have shown that bacterial pathogens are targeted by the autophagy pathway, and autophagy has been increasingly recognized as an important defense mechanism to clear intracellular microbes. However, it now appears that some bacterial pathogens have evolved mechanisms to evade autophagic recognition or even co-opt the autophagy machinery for their own benefit as a replicative niche. A complete understanding of bacterial autophagy in vivo shall be critical to exploit autophagy and its therapeutic potential.
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