Intestinal microbiota exerts protective effects against the infection of various bacterial pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes, a major foodborne pathogen whose infection can lead to a disease (listeriosis) with a high fatality rate. As a strategy to mitigate the action of the intestinal microbiota, pathogens often produce antimicrobial proteinaceous compounds such as bacteriocins. In this review, we summarize the information currently available for the well-characterized L. monocytogenes bacteriocin listeriolysin S, with the emphasis on its intriguing mode of action as a virulence factor, which promotes the infection of L. monocytogenes by changing the composition of the intestinal microbiota. We then discuss another intriguing L. monocytogenes bacteriocin Lmo2776 that specifically inhibits the inflammogenic species, Prevotella copri, in the intestinal microbiota, reducing superfluous inflammation while weakening virulence. In addition, we describe relatively less studied phage tail-like Listeria bacteriocins (monocins) and elaborate on the possibility that these monocins could be involved in enhancing pathogenicity. In spite of the burgeoning interest in the roles played by the intestinal microbiota against the L. monocytogenes infection, our understanding on the virulence factors affecting the intestinal microbiota is still lacking, calling for further studies on bacteriocins that could function as novel virulence factors.
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