Manipulation of focal adhesion signaling by pathogenic microbes

Korinn N. Murphy, Amanda J. Brinkworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Focal adhesions (FAs) serve as dynamic signaling hubs within the cell. They connect intracellular actin to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and respond to environmental cues. In doing so, these structures facilitate important processes such as cell-ECM adhesion and migration. Pathogenic microbes often modify the host cell actin cytoskeleton in their pursuit of an ideal replicative niche or during invasion to facilitate uptake. As actin-interfacing structures, FA dynamics are also intimately tied to actin cytoskeletal organization. Indeed, exploitation of FAs is another avenue by which pathogenic microbes ensure their uptake, survival and dissemination. This is often achieved through the secretion of effector proteins which target specific protein components within the FA. Molecular mimicry of the leucine-aspartic acid (LD) motif or vinculin-binding domains (VBDs) commonly found within FA proteins is a common microbial strategy. Other effectors may induce post-translational modifications to FA proteins through the regulation of phosphorylation sites or proteolytic cleavage. In this review, we present an overview of the regulatory mechanisms governing host cell FAs, and provide examples of how pathogenic microbes have evolved to co-opt them to their own advantage. Recent technological advances pose exciting opportunities for delving deeper into the mechanistic details by which pathogenic microbes modify FAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1358
Pages (from-to)1-48
Number of pages48
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Focal adhesions
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Integrin signaling
  • Outside-in signaling
  • Pathogenesis
  • Stress fibers
  • Vinculin mimetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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