Manipulation of Host Cell Organelles by Intracellular Pathogens

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 17;22(12):6484. doi: 10.3390/ijms22126484.


Pathogenic intracellular bacteria, parasites and viruses have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to manipulate mammalian host cells to serve as niches for persistence and proliferation. The intracellular lifestyles of pathogens involve the manipulation of membrane-bound organellar compartments of host cells. In this review, we described how normal structural organization and cellular functions of endosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, or lipid droplets are targeted by microbial virulence mechanisms. We focus on the specific interactions of Salmonella, Legionella pneumophila, Rickettsia rickettsii, Chlamydia spp. and Mycobacterium tuberculosis representing intracellular bacterial pathogens, and of Plasmodium spp. and Toxoplasma gondii representing intracellular parasites. The replication strategies of various viruses, i.e., Influenza A virus, Poliovirus, Brome mosaic virus, Epstein-Barr Virus, Hepatitis C virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS), Dengue virus, Zika virus, and others are presented with focus on the specific manipulation of the organelle compartments. We compare the specific features of intracellular lifestyle and replication cycles, and highlight the communalities in mechanisms of manipulation deployed.

Keywords: intracellular bacteria; intracellular lifestyle; intracellular parasites; pathogen nutrition; vesicular transport; viruses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomarkers
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Intracellular Space / microbiology
  • Intracellular Space / parasitology
  • Intracellular Space / virology
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Organelles / microbiology
  • Organelles / parasitology
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Phagocytosis


  • Biomarkers