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Trends in Microbiology
Volume 29 (2), 2021, Pages 127-141

Molecular Mechanisms of Intercellular Dissemination of Bacterial Pathogens

Georgina C. Dowd1, Roman Mortuza1, Keith Ireton1

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.


Several intracellular bacterial pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenesShigella flexerni, and Rickettsia spp. use an actin-based motility process to spread in mammalian cell monolayers. Cell-to-cell spread is mediated by protrusive structures that contain bacteria encased in the host cell plasma membrane. These protrusions, which form in infected host cells, are internalized by neighboring cells. In this review, we summarize key findings on cell-to-cell spread, focusing on recent work on mechanisms of protrusion formation and internalization. We also discuss the dynamic behavior of bacterial populations during spread, and highlight recent findings showing that intercellular spread by an extracellular bacterial pathogen.

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