Physical constraints for pathogen movement
Authors: Schwarz US
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2015 Oct;46:82-90. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2015.09.025

In this pedagogical review, we discuss the physical constraints that pathogens experience when they move in their host environment. Due to their small size, pathogens are living in a low Reynolds number world dominated by viscosity. For swimming pathogens, the so-called scallop theorem determines which kinds of shape changes can lead to productive motility. For crawling or gliding cells, the main resistance to movement comes from protein friction at the cell-environment interface. Viruses and pathogenic bacteria can also exploit intracellular host processes such as actin polymerization and motor-based transport, if they present the appropriate factors on their surfaces. Similar to cancer cells that also tend to cross various barriers, pathogens often combine several of these strategies in order to increase their motility and therefore their chances to replicate and spread.