Bacterial pathogens encode a wide variety of effectors and toxins that hijack host cell structure and function. Of particular importance are virulence factors that target actin cytoskeleton dynamics critical for cell shape, stability, motility, phagocytosis, and division. In addition, many bacteria target organelles of the general secretory pathway (e.g., the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex) and recycling pathways (e.g., the endolysosomal system) to establish and maintain an intracellular replicative niche. Recent research on the biochemistry and structural biology of bacterial effector proteins and toxins has begun to shed light on the molecular underpinnings of these host-pathogen interactions. This exciting work is revealing how pathogens gain control of the complex and dynamic host cellular environments, which impacts our understanding of microbial infectious disease, immunology, and human cell biology.


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