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Listeriosis, a model infection to study host-pathogen interactions in vivo

Curr Opin Microbiol

Kammoun H, Kim M, Hafner L, Gaillard J, Disson O, Lecuit M

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a foodborne pathogen and the etiological agent of listeriosis. This facultative intracellular Gram-positive bacterium has the ability to colonize the intestinal lumen, cross the intestinal, blood-brain and placental barriers, leading to bacteremia, neurolisteriosis and maternal-fetal listeriosis. Lm is a model microorganism for the study of the interplay between a pathogenic microbe, host tissues and microbiota in vivo. Here we review how animal models permissive to Lm-host interactions allow deciphering some of the key steps of the infectious process, from the intestinal lumen to the crossing of host barriers and dissemination within the host. We also highlight recent investigations using tagged Lm and clinically relevant strains that have shed light on within-host dynamics and the purifying selection of Lm virulence factors. Studying Lm infection in vivo is a way forward to explore host biology and unveil the mechanisms that have selected its capacity to closely associate with its vertebrate hosts.

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