‘Drugs from Bugs’: bacterial effector proteins as promising biological (immune-) therapeutics

Authors

  • Christian Rüter,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE), Institute of Infectiology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
    • Correspondence: Christian Rüter, Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE), Institute of Infectiology, University of Münster, von Esmarchstrasse 56, 48149 Münster, Germany. Tel.: +49 251 83 56477; fax: +49 251 83 56467; e-mail: rueterc@uni-muenster.de

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Philip R. Hardwidge

    1. College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, NY, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Immune system malfunctions cause many of the most severe human diseases. The immune system has evolved primarily to control bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections. In turn, over millions of years of coevolution, microbial pathogens have evolved various mechanisms to control and modulate the host immune system for their own benefit and survival. For example, many bacterial pathogens use virulence proteins to modulate and exploit target cell mechanisms. Our understanding of these bacterial strategies opens novel possibilities to exploit ‘microbial knowledge’ to control excessive immune reactions. Gaining access to strategies of microbial pathogens could lead to potentially huge benefits for the therapy of inflammatory diseases. Most work on bacterial pathogen effector proteins has the long-term aim of neutralizing the infectious capabilities of the pathogen. However, attenuated pathogens and microbial products have been used for over a century with overwhelming success in the form of vaccines to induce specific immune responses that protect against the respective infectious diseases. In this review, we focus on bacterial effector and virulence proteins capable of modulating and suppressing distinct signaling pathways with potentially desirable immune-modulating effects for treating unrelated inflammatory diseases.

Ancillary