The actin cytoskeleton is crucially important to maintenance of the cellular structure, cell motility, and endocytosis. Accordingly, bacterial pathogens often co-opt the actin-restructuring machinery of host cells to access or create a favorable environment for their own replication. The obligate intracellular organism Chlamydia trachomatis
and related species exemplify this dynamic: by inducing actin polymerization at the site of pathogen-host attachment, Chlamydiae
induce their own uptake by the typically non-phagocytic epithelium they infect. The interaction of chlamydial adhesins with host surface receptors has been implicated in this effect, as has the activity of the chlamydial effector TarP (translocated actin recruitment protein). Following invasion, C. trachomatis
dynamically assembles and maintains an actin-rich cage around the pathogen’s membrane-bound replicative niche, known as the chlamydial inclusion. Through further induction of actin polymerization and modulation of the actin-crosslinking protein myosin II, C. trachomatis
promotes egress from the host via extrusion of the inclusion. In this review, we present the experimental findings that can inform our understanding of actin-dependent chlamydial pathogenesis, discuss lingering questions, and identify potential avenues of future study.
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