Mycoplasmas are the smallest free-living organisms. Reduced sizes of their genomes put constraints on the ability of these bacteria to live autonomously and make them highly dependent on the nutrients produced by host cells. Importantly, at the organism level, mycoplasmal infections may cause pathological changes to the host, including cancer and severe immunological reactions. At the molecular level, mycoplasmas often activate the NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) inflammatory response and concomitantly inhibit the p53-mediated response, which normally triggers the cell cycle and apoptosis. Thus, mycoplasmal infections may be considered as cancer-associated factors. At the same time, mycoplasmas through their membrane lipoproteins (LAMPs) along with lipoprotein derivatives (lipopeptide MALP-2, macrophage-activating lipopeptide-2) are able to modulate anti-inflammatory responses via nuclear translocation and activation of Nrf2 (the nuclear factor-E2-related anti-inflammatory transcription factor 2). Thus, interactions between mycoplasmas and host cells are multifaceted and depend on the cellular context. In this review, we summarize the current information on the role of mycoplasmas in affecting the host’s intracellular signaling mediated by the interactions between transcriptional factors p53, Nrf2, and NF-κB. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying pathologic processes associated with reprogramming eukaryotic cells that arise during the mycoplasma-host cell interaction should facilitate the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat oncogenic and inflammatory processes.
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