Recent advances in microbiology implicate the cytoskeleton in the life cycle of some pathogens, such as intracellular bacteria, Rickettsia and viruses. The cellular cytoskeleton provides the basis for intracellular movements such as those that transport the pathogen to and from the cell surface to the nuclear region, or those that produce cortical protrusions that project the pathogen outwards from the cell surface towards an adjacent cell. Transport in both directions within the neuron is required for pathogens such as the herpesviruses to travel to and from the nucleus and perinuclear region where replication takes place. This trafficking is likely to depend on cellular motors moving on a combination of microtubule and actin filament tracks. Recently, Bearer et al. reconstituted retrograde transport of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in the giant axon of the squid. These studies identified the tegument proteins as the viral proteins most likely to recruit retrograde motors for the transport of HSV to the neuronal nucleus. Similar microtubule-based intracellular movements are part of the biological behavior of vaccinia, a poxvirus, and of adenovirus. Pathogen-induced surface projections and motility within the cortical cytoplasm also play a role in the life cycle of intracellular pathogens. Such motility is driven by pathogen-mediated actin polymerization. Virulence depends on this actin-based motility, since virulence is reduced in Listeria ActA mutants that lack the ability to recruit Arp2 / 3 and polymerize actin and in vaccinia virus mutants that cannot stimulate actin polymerization. Inhibition of intracellular movements provides a potential strategy to limit pathogenicity. The host cell motors and tracks, as well as the pathogen factors that interact with them, are potential targets for novel antimicrobial therapy.
Keywords: Herpes Simplex Virus, Microtubules, Molecular Motors, Myosin, Listeria monocytogenes, vaccinia virus, Actin, VASP
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