The Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis, headed by Matthias Machner, analyzes host-pathogen interactions during Legionnaires' disease, a severe pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. Of particular interest are bacterial effector proteins that are delivered, during the infection process, into the host-cell cytosol, where they modulate host signaling processes. The Unit continued its studies aimed at identifying host-cell targets for bacterial effectors, dissecting the effectors' function on a molecular level, and determining the importance of these interactions for Legionella virulence. Major progress was made in the analysis of bacterial effectors that modulate host proteins of the Rab family, small GTPases that function as key regulators of vesicle traffic in eukaryotic cells.
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