For an invading pathogen, the inside of the cell is an enormous and hostile place. Bacteria and viruses are able to manipulate this harsh environment with astonishing ease, using a powerful and varied genetic armory. One of the most exciting discoveries that has been made by those studying this "genetic terrorism", is that most of the weapons identified so far appear to act on a common set of host targets. For example, the fact that organisms as diverse as vaccinia and Orientia both target the dynein-dynactin complex to accumulate near the centrosome highlights the fundamental importance these proteins must play in the organization of the cell.
The breadth and diversity of interactions between viral and bacterial pathogens and the centrosome, which are only now becoming apparent, reveals the central role this tiny organelle plays in the organization and regulation of the cell. Previously unforeseen connections between the microtubule network, motor proteins, the machinery of nucleocytoplasmic transport, the activities of chaperones and the proteasome, the controlled progression of the cell cycle, and at the center of this web, the centrosome, are all currently emerging from the study of the host-pathogen interface. Our efforts to catch up with these compulsive cellular engineers will not only further our ability to combat infection and disease, but will also deepen our understanding of fundamental processes in cell biology, including the many functions of the mysterious centrosome.
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