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Annu Rev Genet. 2013;47:625-46. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-051313-051025. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Bacterial Mg2+ homeostasis, transport, and virulence.

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Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06536; email: , , , , ,


Organisms must maintain physiological levels of Mg(2+) because this divalent cation is critical for the stabilization of membranes and ribosomes, for the neutralization of nucleic acids, and as a cofactor in a variety of enzymatic reactions. In this review, we describe the mechanisms that bacteria utilize to sense the levels of Mg(2+) both outside and inside the cytoplasm. We examine how bacteria achieve Mg(2+) homeostasis by adjusting the expression and activity of Mg(2+) transporters and by changing the composition of their cell envelope. We discuss the connections that exist between Mg(2+) sensing, Mg(2+) transport, and bacterial virulence. Additionally, we explore the logic behind the fact that bacterial genomes encode multiple Mg(2+) transporters and distinct sensing systems for cytoplasmic and extracytoplasmic Mg(2+). These analyses may be applicable to the homeostatic control of other cations.

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