Nuclear trafficking of bacterial effector proteins

Lena Hoang My Le, Le Ying, Richard L. Ferrero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial pathogens can subvert host responses by producing effector proteins that directly target the nucleus of eukaryotic cells in animals and plants. Nuclear-targeting proteins are categorised as either: “nucleomodulins,” which have epigenetic-modulating activities; or “cyclomodulins,” which specifically interfere with the host cell cycle. Bacteria can deliver these effector proteins to eukaryotic cells via a range of strategies. Despite an increasing number of reports describing the effects of bacterial effector proteins on nuclear processes in host cells, the intracellular pathways used by these proteins to traffic to the nucleus have yet to be fully elucidated. This review will describe current knowledge about how nucleomodulins and cyclomodulins enter eukaryotic cells, exploit endocytic pathways and translocate to the nucleus. We will also discuss the secretion of nuclear-targeting proteins or their release in bacterial membrane vesicles and the trafficking pathways employed by each of these forms. Besides their importance for bacterial pathogenesis, some nuclear-targeting proteins have been implicated in the development of chronic diseases and even cancer. A greater understanding of nuclear-targeting proteins and their actions will provide new insights into the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, as well as contribute to advances in the development of novel therapies against bacterial infections and possibly cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13320
Number of pages12
JournalCellular Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • cyclomodulin
  • effector protein
  • nuclear-targeting proteins
  • nucleomodulin
  • outer membrane vesicles
  • secretion system

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