Post-translational Mechanisms of Host Subversion by Bacterial Effectors

Nichollas E. Scott, Elizabeth L. Hartland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial effector proteins are a specialized class of secreted proteins that are translocated directly into the host cytoplasm by bacterial pathogens. Effector proteins have diverse activities and targets, and many mediate post-translational modifications of host proteins. Effector proteins offer potential in novel biotechnological and medical applications as enzymes that may modify human proteins. Here, we discuss the mechanisms used by effectors to subvert the human host through blocking, blunting, or subverting immune mechanisms. This capacity allows bacteria to control host cell function to support pathogen survival, replication and dissemination to other hosts. In addition, we highlight that knowledge of effector protein activity may be used to develop chemical inhibitors as a new approach to treat bacterial infections. Bacterial effector proteins contribute to the success of bacterial infections by interfering with host defense pathways. Bacterial effector proteins are increasingly being recognized as new families of enzymes. Recent developments in mass spectrometry technologies are enabling an easier characterization of effector protein activities. Some highly novel post-translational modifications have been identified in bacterial effectors; these include arginine glycosylation or β elimination of phosphorylated threonine residues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1102
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in Molecular Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • bacterial infection
  • drug development
  • drug targets
  • effector proteins
  • functional mimicry
  • post-translational modifications

Cite this