The secretion of toxins and other exoproteins of cronobacter: Role in virulence, adaption, and persistence

Hyein Jang, Gopal R. Gopinath, Athmanya Eshwar, Shabarinath Srikumar, Scott Nguyen, Jayanthi Gangiredla, Isha R. Patel, Samantha B. Finkelstein, Flavia Negrete, Jung Ha Woo, You Young Lee, Séamus Fanning, Roger Stephan, Ben D. Tall, Angelika Lehner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Cronobacter species are considered an opportunistic group of foodborne pathogenic bacteria capable of causing both intestinal and systemic human disease. This review describes common virulence themes shared among the seven Cronobacter species and describes multiple exoproteins secreted by Cronobacter, many of which are bacterial toxins that may play a role in human disease. The review will particularly concentrate on the virulence factors secreted by C. sakazakii, C. malonaticus, and C. turicensis, which are the primary human pathogens of interest. It has been discovered that various species-specific virulence factors adversely affect a wide range of eukaryotic cell processes including protein synthesis, cell division, and ion secretion. Many of these factors are toxins which have been shown to also modulate the host immune response. These factors are encoded on a variety of mobile genetic elements such as plasmids and transposons; this genomic plasticity implies ongoing re-assortment of virulence factor genes which has complicated our efforts to categorize Cronobacter into sharply defined genomic pathotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adherence factors
  • Efflux pumps
  • Iron transport
  • Osmotic stress response
  • Outer membrane proteins
  • Plasmids
  • Protein secretion systems
  • Quorum sensing systems
  • Virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology


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