Our cells fight microbial invaders by engulfing them into membrane sacs – hostile environments in which pathogens are rapidly destroyed. However, the pathogen Salmonella enterica, which grows and reproduces inside our cells, has evolved ways to detoxify such hostile compartments, turning them into a comfortable home where Salmonella can survive and thrive.
A team of scientists led by EMBL group leader Nassos Typas has uncovered new details of Salmonella’s survival strategies. The researchers analysed protein interactions in Salmonella-infected cells to identify the diverse biological processes of the host cell that the bacterium uses. Salmonella targets and modifies cellular protein machineries and pathways, in which multiple proteins work together, with the help of so-called effector proteins, which it injects into host cells. Altogether, Salmonella is known to release more than 30 effector proteins into infected cells to hijack nutrients and protect itself. However, the functions of many of these proteins, and which host cell proteins they interact with, are largely unknown.