Metabolic memory in Mycobacterium

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 44
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6346.44-c

Tuberculosis is a slow disease. Replication of the pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, can be arrested for decades within hypoxic tubercles. Eoh et al. show that hypoxia shifts the metabolism of M. tuberculosis into the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) by depleting stores of trehalose. This disaccharide is essential for the mycolyl glycolipids that wax the surface of the bacterium's cell. The PPP intermediates provide precursors for nucleotide and peptidoglycan synthesis. The pathogen is thus retuned during latency to poise it for immediate action when immunocompromise has crept up on the aging host; the tubercles start breaking down, and exposure to oxygen allows the pathogen to restart replication.

Nat. Microbiol. 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.84 (2017).

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