Bacterial-induced cell reprogramming to stem cell-like cells: new premise in host-pathogen interactions

Samuel Hess, Anura Rambukkana

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Bacterial pathogens employ a myriad of strategies to alter host tissue cell functions for bacterial advantage during infection. Recent advances revealed a fusion of infection biology with stem cell biology by demonstrating developmental reprogramming of lineage committed host glial cells to progenitor/stem cell-like cells by an intracellular bacterial pathogen Mycobacterium leprae. Acquisition of migratory and immunomodulatory properties of such reprogrammed cells provides an added advantage for promoting bacterial spread. This presents a previously unseen sophistication of cell manipulation by hijacking the genomic plasticity of host cells by a human bacterial pathogen. The rationale for such extreme fate conversion of host cells may be directly linked to the exceedingly passive obligate life style of M. leprae with a degraded genome and host cell dependence for both bacterial survival and dissemination, particularly the use of host-derived stem cell-like cells as a vehicle for spreading infection without being detected by immune cells. Thus, this unexpected link between cell reprogramming and infection opens up a new premise in host-pathogen interactions. Furthermore, such bacterial ingenuity could also be harnessed for developing natural ways of reprogramming host cells for repairing damaged tissues from infection, injury and diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-88
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Early online date23 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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