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.