Sensing, signaling, and secretion: A review and analysis of systems for regulating host interaction in wolbachia

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Wolbachia (Anaplasmataceae) is an endosymbiont of arthropods and nematodes that resides within host cells and is well known for manipulating host biology to facilitate transmission via the female germline. The effects Wolbachia has on host physiology, combined with reproductive manipulations, make this bacterium a promising candidate for use in biological-and vector-control. While it is becoming increasingly clear that Wolbachia’s effects on host biology are numerous and vary according to the host and the environment, we know very little about the molecular mechanisms behind Wolbachia’s interactions with its host. Here, I analyze 29 Wolbachia genomes for the presence of systems that are likely central to the ability of Wolbachia to respond to and interface with its host, including proteins for sensing, signaling, gene regulation, and secretion. Second, I review conditions under which Wolbachia alters gene expression in response to changes in its environment and discuss other instances where we might hypothesize Wolbachia to regulate gene expression. Findings will direct mechanistic investigations into gene regulation and host-interaction that will deepen our understanding of intracellular infections and enhance applied management efforts that leverage Wolbachia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number813
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Endosymbiont
  • Environmental response
  • Gene regulation
  • Symbiosis
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • Two-component system
  • Type I secretion system
  • Type IV secretion system


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