Yersinia virulence factors – a sophisticated arsenal for combating host defences.
F1000Res. 2016 Jun 14;5. pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-1370.
Atkinson S1, Williams P1.
1Centre for Biomolecular Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
The human pathogens Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia enterocolitica cause enterocolitis, while Yersinia pestis is responsible for pneumonic, bubonic, and septicaemic plague.
All three share an infection strategy that relies on a virulence factor arsenal to enable them to enter, adhere to, and colonise the host while evading host defences to avoid untimely clearance.
Their arsenal includes a number of adhesins that allow the invading pathogens to establish a foothold in the host and to adhere to specific tissues later during infection.
When the host innate immune system has been activated, all three pathogens produce a structure analogous to a hypodermic needle. In conjunction with the translocon, which forms a pore in the host membrane, the channel that is formed enables the transfer of six ‘effector’ proteins into the host cell cytoplasm.
These proteins mimic host cell proteins but are more efficient than their native counterparts at modifying the host cell cytoskeleton, triggering the host cell suicide response.
Such a sophisticated arsenal ensures that yersiniae maintain the upper hand despite the best efforts of the host to counteract the infecting pathogen.