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Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Jul;11(5):825-38. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.02.016. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Iron acquisition, assimilation and regulation in mycobacteria.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 500046, India.


Iron is as crucial to the pathogen as it is to the host. The tuberculosis causing bacillus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), is an exceptionally efficient pathogen that has evolved proficient mechanisms to sequester iron from the host despite its thick mycolate-rich outer covering and a highly impermeable membrane of phagolysosome within which it persists inside an infected host macrophage. Further, both overindulgence and moderation of iron inside a host are a threat to mycobacterial persistence. While for removing iron from the host reservoirs, mycobacteria synthesize molecules that have several times higher affinity for iron than their host counterparts, they also synthesize molecules for efficient storage of excess iron. This is supported by tightly regulated iron dependent global gene expressions. In this review we discuss the various molecules and pathways evolved by mycobacteria for an efficient iron metabolism. We also discuss the less investigated players, like iron responsive proteins and iron responsive elements in mycobacteria, and highlight the lacunae in our current understanding of iron acquisition and utilization in mycobacteria with an ultimate aim to make iron metabolism as a possible anti-mycobacterial target.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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