Tilney and Port­noy were the first to show that Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes hijacks the actin machin­ery of infected cells to invade neigh­bour­ing cells. Since then, many exam­ples have been found of bac­te­ria and viruses that gen­er­ate actin comets in host cells (Goley and Welch, 2006).

Movie of an epithe­lial PtK2 cell infected with Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes (phase con­trast optics; by cour­tesy of  Anto­nio Sechi)

The small­est known mem­ber of the class of pathogens pro­pelled by actin is an insect bac­ulovirus (Ohkawa et al., 2010).

Movie (flu­o­res­cence optics) shows a fish fibrob­last that was infected with bac­ulovirus. The cell was trans­fected with bac­ulovirus tagged with mCherry and with GFP-VASP and mCherry-actin.

The rel­a­tive sizes of Lis­te­ria and bac­ulovirus are depicted in this schematic dia­gram. Bac­ulovirus is only 40nm in diam­e­ter, com­pared to 500nm for Lis­te­ria and 300nm for Vac­cinia virus, which also hijacks the actin cytoskele­ton (Link to Way lab).

Related Web­site

Related Pub­li­ca­tions

  • Goley and Welch. The ARP2/3 com­plex: an actin nucle­ator comes of age. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Oct;7(10):71326. Review. NCBI PubMed
  • Ohkawa T, Volk­man LE, Welch MD. Actin-based motil­ity dri­ves bac­ulovirus tran­sit to the nucleus and cell sur­face. J Cell Biol. 2010 Jul 26;190(2):18795. PDF