The use of simple hosts such as Dictyostelium discoideum in the study of host pathogen interactions offers a number of advantages and has steadily increased in recent years. Infection-specific genes can often only be studied in a very limited way in man and even in the mouse model their analysis is usually expensive, time consuming and technically challenging or sometimes even impossible. In contrast, their functional analysis in D. discoideum and other simple model organisms is often easier, faster and cheaper. Because host-pathogen interactions necessarily involve two organisms, it is desirable to be able to genetically manipulate both the pathogen and its host. Particularly suited are those hosts, like D. discoideum, whose genome sequence is known and annotated and for which excellent genetic and cell biological tools are available in order to dissect the complex crosstalk between host and pathogen. The review focusses on host-pathogen interactions of D. discoideum with Legionella pneumophila, mycobacteria, and Salmonella typhimurium which replicate intracellularly.
Keywords: Amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum, drug targets, functional analysis, infection, Legionella pneumophila, model organism, Mycobacteria, pathogen, Salmonella typhimurium, social amoeba, virulence factor
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