Pathogenicity and virulence of Burkholderia pseudomallei

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The soil saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is the causative agent of melioidosis, a disease endemic in South East Asia and northern Australia. Exposure to B. pseudomallei by either inhalation or inoculation can lead to severe disease. B. pseudomallei rapidly shifts from an environmental organism to an aggressive intracellular pathogen capable of rapidly spreading around the body. The expression of multiple virulence factors at every stage of intracellular infection allows for rapid progression of infection. Following invasion or phagocytosis, B. pseudomallei resists host-cell killing mechanisms in the phagosome, followed by escape using the type III secretion system. Several secreted virulence factors manipulate the host cell, while bacterial cells undergo a shift in energy metabolism allowing for overwhelming intracellular replication. Polymerisation of host cell actin into “actin tails” propels B. pseudomallei to the membranes of host cells where the type VI secretion system fuses host cells into multinucleated giant cells (MNGCs) to facilitate cell-to-cell dissemination. This review describes the various mechanisms used by B. pseudomallei to survive within cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1945-1965
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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