Sensing for survival: specialised regulatory mechanisms of Type III secretion systems in Gram-negative pathogens

Yadav Manisha, Mahalashmi Srinivasan, Chacko Jobichen, Ilan Rosenshine, J. Sivaraman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For centuries, Gram-negative pathogens have infected the human population and been responsible for numerous diseases in animals and plants. Despite advancements in therapeutics, Gram-negative pathogens continue to evolve, with some having developed multi-drug resistant phenotypes. For the successful control of infections caused by these bacteria, we need to widen our understanding of the mechanisms of host–pathogen interactions. Gram-negative pathogens utilise an array of effector proteins to hijack the host system to survive within the host environment. These proteins are secreted into the host system via various secretion systems, including the integral Type III secretion system (T3SS). The T3SS spans two bacterial membranes and one host membrane to deliver effector proteins (virulence factors) into the host cell. This multifaceted process has multiple layers of regulation and various checkpoints. In this review, we highlight the multiple strategies adopted by these pathogens to regulate or maintain virulence via the T3SS, encompassing the regulation of small molecules to sense and communicate with the host system, as well as master regulators, gatekeepers, chaperones, and other effectors that recognise successful host contact. Further, we discuss the regulatory links between the T3SS and other systems, like flagella and metabolic pathways including the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, anaerobic metabolism, and stringent cell response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-863
Number of pages27
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Cambridge Philosophical Society.


  • chaperones
  • effectors
  • flagella
  • Gram-negative pathogens
  • metabolism
  • quorum sensing
  • regulators
  • Type III secretion system


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