New concepts in Salmonella virulence: the importance of reducing the intracellular growth rate in the host

Authors

  • Alberto Tierrez,

    1. Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Darwin 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Francisco García-del Portillo

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Biotecnología Microbiana, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Darwin 3, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
    Search for more papers by this author

E-mail fgportillo@cnb.uam.es; Tel. (+34) 91 5854923; Fax (+34) 91 5854506.

Summary

The literature refers to Salmonella enterica as an intracellular bacterial pathogen that proliferates within vacuoles of mammalian cells. However, recent in vivo studies have revealed that the vast majority of infected cells contain very few intracellular bacteria (three to four organisms). Salmonella intracellular growth is also limited in cultured dendritic cells and fibroblasts, two cell types abundant in tissues located underneath the intestinal epithelium. Recently, a Salmonella factor previously known for its role as a negative regulator of intracellular growth has been shown to tightly repress certain pathogen functions upon host colonization and to be critical for virulence. The connection between virulence and the negative control of intracellular growth is further sustained by the fact that some attenuated mutants overgrow in non-phagocytic cells located in the intestinal lamina propria. These findings are changing our classical view of Salmonella as a fast growing intracellular pathogen and suggest that this pathogen may trigger responses directed to reduce the growth rate within the infected cell. These responses could play a critical role in modulating the delicate balance between disease and persistence.

Ancillary