Owing to the unique redox potential of transition metals, many of these elements serve important roles as cofactors in numerous enzymes. However, the reactive nature of metal becomes an intracellular threat when these ions are present in excess. Therefore, all organisms require mechanisms for sensing small fluctuations in metal levels to maintain a controlled balance of uptake, efflux, and sequestration. The ability to sense metal ion concentration is especially important for the survival of pathogenic bacteria because host organisms can both restrict access to essential metals from invading pathogens and utilize the innate toxicity of certain metals for bacterial killing. Host-induced metal ion fluctuations must be rapidly sensed by pathogenic bacteria so that they can activate metal transport systems, alter their physiology to accommodate differences in metal concentrations, and regulate the expression of virulence factors.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.