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Two-component systems regulate bacterial virulence in response to the host gastrointestinal environment and metabolic cues.

  • Shaw, Claire
  • Hess, Matthias
  • Weimer, Bart C
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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Two-component systems are ubiquitous signaling mechanisms in bacteria that enable intracellular changes from extracellular cues. These bacterial regulatory systems couple external stimuli to control genetic expression via an autophosphorylation cascade that transduces membrane signals to intracellular locations, thereby allowing bacteria to rapidly adapt to the changing environmental conditions. Well known to control basic cellular processes, it is evident that two-component systems also exercise control over virulence traits, such as motility, secretion systems, and stress responses that impact the complex cascade of networks that alter virulence traits. In the gastrointestinal system, cues for activation of virulence-related two-component systems include metal ions, host-derived metabolites, and gut conditions. The diversity and origin of these cues suggest that the host can exert control over enteric pathogenicity via regulation in the gastrointestinal system. With the rise in multi-drug resistant pathogens, the potential control of pathogenicity with host cues via two-component systems presents a potential alternative to antimicrobials. Though the signaling mechanism itself is well studied, to date there is no systematic review compiling the host-associated cues of two-component systems and virulence traits. This review highlights the direct link between the host gastrointestinal environment and pathogenicity by focusing on two-component systems that are associated with the genetic expression of virulence traits, and that are activated by host-derived cues. The direct link between the host gastrointestinal environment, metabolites, and pathogenicity established in this review both underscores the importance of host-derived cues on bacterial activity and presents an enticing therapeutic target in the fight against antimicrobial resistant pathogens.

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