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Tripathi-Giesgen, Ishita; Behrends, Christian and Alpi, Arno F. (2021): The ubiquitin ligation machinery in the defense against bacterial pathogens. In: EMBO Reports, Vol. 22, No. 11, e52864 [PDF, 1MB]


The ubiquitin system is an important part of the host cellular defense program during bacterial infection. This is in particular evident for a number of bacteria including Salmonella Typhimurium and Mycobacterium tuberculosis which-inventively as part of their invasion strategy or accidentally upon rupture of seized host endomembranes-become exposed to the host cytosol. Ubiquitylation is involved in the detection and clearance of these bacteria as well as in the activation of innate immune and inflammatory signaling. Remarkably, all these defense responses seem to emanate from a dense layer of ubiquitin which coats the invading pathogens. In this review, we focus on the diverse group of host cell E3 ubiquitin ligases that help to tailor this ubiquitin coat. In particular, we address how the divergent ubiquitin conjugation mechanisms of these ligases contribute to the complexity of the anti-bacterial coating and the recruitment of different ubiquitin-binding effectors. We also discuss the activation and coordination of the different E3 ligases and which strategies bacteria evolved to evade the activities of the host ubiquitin system.

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