Microbiology

Taking the Low Road

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Science  25 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5717, pp. 1841
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5717.1841c

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria are well known among cell biologists for their spectacular hijacking of the actin cytoskeleton early after infection, which enables them to zoom around inside target cells, propelled by actin comet tails. At later stages of infection, Listeria use another clever strategy to spread between host cells without risking exposure to the host immune system: They invade neighboring cells by inducing bacteria-containing cellular protrusions that somehow transfer the bacteria to the neighboring cell without it ever being exposed to the extracellular milieu.

Pust et al. examined the process of cell-cell transfer of Listeria and found that in addition to the actin cytoskeleton, the bacteria exploit the cellular protein ezrin, which functions as a plasma membrane-cytoskeleton linker. Interfering with the phosphorylation of ezrin leads to short collapsed protrusions that fail to deliver bacteria efficiently between cells. — SMH

EMBO J. 10.1038/sj.emboj.7600595 (2005).

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