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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Nov 14;10(1):27-38. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2688.

The myriad roles of cyclic AMP in microbial pathogens: from signal to sword.

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Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, 120 New Scotland Avenue, PO Box 22002, Albany, New York, New York 12201-2002, USA. kathleen.mcdonough@


All organisms must sense and respond to their external environments, and this signal transduction often involves second messengers such as cyclic nucleotides. One such nucleotide is cyclic AMP, a universal second messenger that is used by diverse forms of life, including mammals, fungi, protozoa and bacteria. In this review, we discuss the many roles of cAMP in bacterial, fungal and protozoan pathogens and its contributions to microbial pathogenesis. These roles include the coordination of intracellular processes, such as virulence gene expression, with extracellular signals from the environment, and the manipulation of host immunity by increasing cAMP levels in host cells during infection.

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