Role of Listeria monocytogenes Exotoxins in Virulence

  • Juan José Quereda
  • Pascale Cossart
  • Javier Pizarro-Cerdá
Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

Part of the Toxinology book series (TOXI)


Listeria monocytogenes is an opportunistic intracellular bacterium responsible for the disease listeriosis. This review will update the knowledge on the four exotoxins secreted by this intracellular pathogen: the cholesterol-dependent cytolysin listeriolysin O (LLO), phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PlcA), broad-range phospholipase C (PlcB), and hemolysin listeriolysin S (LLS). Each one of these exotoxins has evolved to perform specific and important functions in the extracellular or intracellular environment during the life cycle of L. monocytogenes. LLO, PlcA, and PlcB were discovered decades ago; however, recent studies are revisiting their functions and revealing new previously unexpected insights. In the same line, LLS was discovered almost a decade ago, but it was recently deciphered that it is not only a toxin for eukaryotic cells but also a bacteriocin targeting bacteria closely related to L. monocytogenes. These latest findings, together with the knowledge generated during the history of listeriology, will be discussed in the light of their impact on the infectious process.


Listeria monocytogenes Exotoxins Listeriolysin O (LLO) Phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PlcA) Broad-range phospholipase C (PlcB) Listeriolysin S (LLS) 



We apologize to colleagues whose work could not be included in this article owing to space and reference limitations. Work in the laboratory was supported by the Institut Pasteur, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM Unité 604), Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA Unité Sous Contrat 2020), Institut Pasteur (PTR460 and PTR521 to JPC), L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (ANR-15-CE15-0017 StopBugEntry to JPC), Fondation Le Roch-Les Mousquetaires, Fondation Balzan, and European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (670823 BacCellEpi to PC). PC is an international senior research scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSERM U604Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Institut PasteurParisFrance
  2. 2.INRA USC2020Unité des Interactions Bactéries-Cellules, Institut PasteurParisFrance

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