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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2000 Dec;11(6):625-36.

Bacterial virulence as a target for antimicrobial chemotherapy.

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Infectious Diseases Department, Wyeth-Ayerst Research, 401 North Middletown Road, Pearl River, NY 10965, USA.

Erratum in

  • Curr Opin Biotechnol 2001 Feb;12(1):112.


As bacterial resistance to currently used antibiotics increases, so too must efforts to identify novel agents and strategies for the prevention and treatment of bacterial infection. In the past, antimicrobial drug discovery efforts have focused on eradicating infection by either cidal or static agents, resulting in clearance of the bacterium from the infected host. To this end, drug discovery targets have been those proteins or processes essential for bacterial cell viability. However, inhibition of the interaction between the bacterium and its host may also be a target. During establishment of an infection, pathogenic bacteria use carefully regulated pathways of conditional gene expression to transition from a free-living form to one that must adapt to the host milieu. This transition requires the regulated production of both extracellular and cell-surface molecules, often termed virulence factors. As the biological imperatives of the invading organism change during the course of an infection, the expression of these factors is altered in response to environmental cues. These may be changes in the host environment, for example, pH, metabolites, metal ions, osmolarity, and temperature. Alternatively, effector molecules produced by the bacterium to sense changing cell density can also lead to changes in virulence gene expression. Although the mechanisms of pathogenesis among different bacteria vary, the principles of virulence are generally conserved. Bacterial virulence may therefore offer unique opportunities to inhibit the establishment of infection or alter its course as a method of antimicrobial chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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