Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Trends in symbiont-induced host cellular differentiation

Version 1 : Received: 8 April 2020 / Approved: 10 April 2020 / Online: 10 April 2020 (15:38:56 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 28 April 2020 / Approved: 28 April 2020 / Online: 28 April 2020 (09:18:03 CEST)

How to cite: Russell, S.; Ruelas Castillo, J. Trends in symbiont-induced host cellular differentiation. Preprints 2020, 2020040172. Russell, S.; Ruelas Castillo, J. Trends in symbiont-induced host cellular differentiation. Preprints 2020, 2020040172.


Bacteria participate in a wide diversity of symbiotic associations with eukaryotic hosts that require precise interactions for bacterial recognition and persistence. Most commonly, host-associated bacteria interfere with host gene expression to modulate the immune response to the infection. However, many of these bacteria also interfere with host cellular differentiation pathways to create a hospitable niche, resulting in the formation of novel cell types, tissues, and organs. In both of these situations, bacterial symbionts must interact with eukaryotic regulatory pathways. Here, we detail what is known about how bacterial symbionts, from pathogens to mutualists, control host cellular differentiation across the central dogma, from epigenetic chromatin modifications, to transcription and mRNA processing, to translation and protein modifications. We identify four main trends from this survey. First, mechanisms for controlling host gene expression appear to evolve from symbionts co-opting cross-talk between host signalling pathways. Second, symbiont regulatory capacity is constrained by the processes that drive reductive genome evolution in host-associated bacteria. Third, the regulatory mechanisms symbionts exhibit correlate with the cost/benefit nature of the association. And, fourth symbiont mechanisms for interacting with host genetic regulatory elements are not bound by native bacterial capabilities. Using this knowledge, we explore how the ubiquitous intracellular Wolbachia symbiont of arthropods and nematodes may modulate host cellular differentiation to manipulate host reproduction. Our survey of the literature on how infection alters gene expression in Wolbachia and its hosts revealed that, despite their intermediate-sized genomes, different strains appear capable of a wide diversity of regulatory manipulations. Given this and Wolbachia’s diversity of phenotypes and eukaryotic-like proteins, we expect that many symbiont-induced host differentiation mechanisms will be discovered in this system.


Wolbachia; Drosophila; Symbiosis; Cellular microbiology; Cellular differentiation; Epigenetics; Transcription; Translation; Proteolysis


Biology and Life Sciences, Cell and Developmental Biology

Comments (0)

Comment 1
Received: 25 April 2020
Commenter: Tobias Engl
The commenter has declared there is no conflict of interests.
Comment: It would be helpful for reading to include the figures in the PDF or make them otherwise accessible.
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