The innate immune system of the human body has developed numerous mechanisms to control endogenous and exogenous bacteria and thus prevent infections by these microorganisms. These mechanisms range from physical barriers such as the skin or mucosal epithelium to a sophisticated array of molecules and cells that function to suppress or prevent bacterial infection. Many bacteria express a variety of proteases, ranging from nonspecific and powerful enzymes that degrade many proteins involved in innate immunity to proteases that are extremely precise and specific in their mode of action. Here we have assembled a comprehensive picture of how bacterial proteases affect the host’s innate immune system to gain advantage and cause infection. This picture is far from being complete since the numbers of mechanisms utilized are as astonishing as they are diverse, ranging from degradation of molecules vital to innate immune mechanisms to subversion of the mechanisms to allow the bacterium to hide from the system or take advantage of it. It is vital that such mechanisms are elucidated to allow strategies to be developed to aid the innate immune system in controlling bacterial infections.

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