An early step in the pathogenesis of non-typhoidal Salmonella species is the ability to penetrate the intestinal epithelial monolayer. This process of cell invasion requires the production and transport of secreted effector proteins by a type III secretion apparatus encoded in Salmonella pathogenicity island I (SPI-1). The control of invasion involves a number of genetic regulators and environmental stimuli in complex relationships. SPI-1 itself encodes several transcriptional regulators (HilA, HilD, HilC, and InvF) with overlapping sets of target genes. These regulators are, in turn, controlled by both positive and regulators outside SPI-1, including the two-component regulators BarA/SirA and PhoP/Q, and the csr post-transcriptional control system. Additionally, several environmental conditions are known to regulate invasion, including pH, osmolarity, oxygen tension, bile, Mg2+ concentration, and short chain fatty acids. This review will discuss the current understanding of invasion control, with emphasis on the interaction of environmental factors with genetic regulators that leads to productive infection.
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