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Mol Microbiol. 2010 Sep;77(5):1096-110. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07273.x.

CtpV: a putative copper exporter required for full virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1656 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Copper is a required micronutrient that is also toxic at excess concentrations. Currently, little is known about the role of copper in interactions between bacterial pathogens and their human hosts. In this study, we elucidate a mechanism for copper homeostasis in the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis via characterization of a putative copper exporter, CtpV. CtpV was shown to be required by M. tuberculosis to maintain resistance to copper toxicity. Furthermore, the deletion of ctpV resulted in a 98-gene transcriptional response, which elucidates the increased stress experienced by the bacteria in the absence of this detoxification mechanism. Interestingly, although the ΔctpV mutant survives close to the wild-type levels in both murine and guinea pig models of tuberculosis, animals infected with the ΔctpV mutant displayed decreased lung damage, and mutant-infected mice had a reduced immune response to the bacteria as well as a significant increase in survival time relative to mice infected with wild-type M. tuberculosis. Overall, our study provides the first evidence for a connection between bacterial copper response and the virulence of M. tuberculosis, supporting the hypothesis that copper response could be important to intracellular pathogens, in general.

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