Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol. 2017;399:155-174
The virulence of highly pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Yersinia, Staphylococci, Clostridia, and pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli involves intimate cross-talks with the host actin cytoskeleton and its upstream regulators. A large number of virulence factors expressed by these pathogens modulate Rho GTPase activities either by mimicking cellular regulators or by catalyzing posttranslational modifications of these small proteins. This impressive convergence of virulence toward Rho GTPases and actin indeed offers pathogens the capacity to breach host defenses and invade their host, while it promotes inflammatory reactions. In return, the study of this targeting of Rho GTPases in infection has been an invaluable source of information in cell signaling, cell biology, and biomechanics, as well as in immunology. Through selected examples, I highlight the importance of recent studies on this crosstalk, which have unveiled new mechanisms of regulation of Rho GTPases; the relationship between cell shape and actin cytoskeleton organization; and the relationship between Rho GTPases and innate immune signaling.