Bacterial Escape Artists Set Afire

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Science  22 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6122, pp. 912-913
DOI: 10.1126/science.1235639

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Bacteria can occupy multiple compartments within host cells during infection, including vacuoles (1). Some bacteria manage to escape from vacuoles and enter the cytosol. These so-called "cytosoladapted" pathogens can sustain rapid growth in the nutrient-rich environment. Host cellular defenses that protect the cytosol from invading bacteria include phagosome repair mechanisms (2) and autophagy (1). On page 975 of this issue, Aachoui et al. (3) report that the enzyme caspase-11 can also protect mice from a lethal infection by promoting a type of programmed cell death called pyroptosis, a response that may be a last line of defense against pathogens that escape into the cytosol.