Visualizing the invisible: novel approaches to visualizing bacterial proteins and host-pathogen interactions

Moirangthem Kiran Singh, Linda J. Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Host-pathogen interactions play a critical role in infectious diseases, and understanding the underlying mechanisms is vital for developing effective therapeutic strategies. The visualization and characterization of bacterial proteins within host cells is key to unraveling the dynamics of these interactions. Various protein labeling strategies have emerged as powerful tools for studying host-pathogen interactions, enabling the tracking, localization, and functional analysis of bacterial proteins in real-time. However, the labeling and localization of Salmonella secreted type III secretion system (T3SS) effectors in host cells poses technical challenges. Conventional methods disrupt effector stoichiometry and often result in non-specific staining. Bulky fluorescent protein fusions interfere with effector secretion, while other tagging systems such as 4Cys-FLaSH/Split-GFP suffer from low labeling specificity and a poor signal-to-noise ratio. Recent advances in state-of-the-art techniques have augmented the existing toolkit for monitoring the translocation and dynamics of bacterial effectors. This comprehensive review delves into the bacterial protein labeling strategies and their application in imaging host-pathogen interactions. Lastly, we explore the obstacles faced and potential pathways forward in the realm of protein labeling strategies for visualizing interactions between hosts and pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1334503
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • bacterial proteins
  • genetic code expansion
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • imaging techniques
  • protein labeling
  • super-resolution microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Visualizing the invisible: novel approaches to visualizing bacterial proteins and host-pathogen interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this