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Trends Microbiol. 2012 Mar;20(3):106-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2012.01.005. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Metallobiology of host-pathogen interactions: an intoxicating new insight.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale (IPBS), BP 64182, F-31077 Toulouse, France.


Iron, zinc and copper, among others, are transition metals with multiple biological roles that make them essential elements for life. Beyond the strict requirement of transition metals by the vertebrate immune system for its proper functioning, novel mechanisms involving direct metal intoxication of microorganisms are starting to be unveiled as important components of the immune system, in particular against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In parallel, metal detoxification systems in bacteria have been recently characterized as crucial microbial virulence determinants. Here, we will focus on these exciting advancements implicating copper- and zinc-mediated microbial poisoning as a novel innate immune mechanism against microbial pathogens, shedding light on an emerging field in the metallobiology of host-pathogen interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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