Modulation of host microtubule dynamics by pathogenic bacteria

Biomol Concepts. 2012 Dec 1;3(6):571-580. doi: 10.1515/bmc-2012-0030.


The eukaryotic cytoskeleton is a vulnerable target of many microbial pathogens during the course of infection. Rearrangements of host cytoskeleton benefit microbes in various stages of their infection cycle such as invasion, motility, and persistence. Bacterial pathogens deliver a number of effector proteins into host cells for modulating the dynamics of actin and microtubule cytoskeleton. Alteration of the actin cytoskeleton is generally achieved by bacterial effectors that target the small GTPases of the host. Modulation of microtubule dynamics involves direct interaction of effector proteins with the subunits of microtubules or recruiting cellular proteins that affect microtubule dynamics. This review will discuss effector proteins from animal and human bacterial pathogens that either destabilize or stabilize host micro-tubules to advance the infectious process. A compilation of these research findings will provide an overview of known and unknown strategies used by various bacterial effectors to modulate the host microtubule dynamics. The present review will undoubtedly help direct future research to determine the mechanisms of action of many bacterial effector proteins and contribute to understanding the survival strategies of diverse adherent and invasive bacterial pathogens.

Keywords: bacteria; bacterial effector proteins; cytoskeleton; microtubules.