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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Aug;66(16):2661-76. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-0041-3. Epub 2009 May 12.

Microbial thermosensors.

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Lehrstuhl für Biologie der Mikroorganismen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstrasse 150, NDEF 06/783, 44780 Bochum, Germany.


Temperature is among the most important of the parameters that free-living microbes monitor. Microbial physiology needs to be readjusted in response to sudden temperature changes. When the ambient temperature rises or drops to potentially harmful levels, cells mount protective stress responses--so-called heat or cold shock responses, respectively. Pathogenic microorganisms often respond to a temperature of around 37 degrees C by inducing virulence gene expression. There are two main ways in which temperature can be measured. Often, the consequences of a sudden temperature shift are detected. Such indirect signals are known to be the accumulation of denatured proteins (heat shock) or stalled ribosomes (cold shock). However, this article focuses solely on direct thermosensors. Since the conformation of virtually every biomolecule is susceptible to temperature changes, primary sensors include DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids.

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