Chemotaxis enables microorganisms to move according to chemical gradients. Although this process requires substantial cellular energy, it also affords key physiological benefits, including enhanced access to growth substrates. Another important implication of chemotaxis is that it also plays an important role in infection and disease, as chemotaxis signalling pathways are broadly distributed across a variety of pathogenic bacteria. Furthermore, current research indicates that chemotaxis is essential for the initial stages of infection in different human, animal and plant pathogens. This review focuses on recent findings that have identified specific bacterial chemoreceptors and corresponding chemoeffectors associated with pathogenicity. Pathogenicity-related chemoeffectors are either host and niche-specific signals or intermediates of the host general metabolism. Plant pathogens were found to contain an elevated number of chemotaxis signalling genes and functional studies demonstrate that these genes are critical for their ability to enter the host. The expanding body of knowledge of the mechanisms underlying chemotaxis in pathogens provides a foundation for the development of new therapeutic strategies capable of blocking infection and preventing disease by interfering with chemotactic signalling pathways.
Keywords: chemoeffector; chemoreceptor; chemotaxis; motility; pathogen; pathogenicity.
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