Redox homeostasis in mycobacteria: the key to tuberculosis control?

Academic Article


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is a metabolically flexible pathogen that has the extraordinary ability to sense and adapt to the continuously changing host environment experienced during decades of persistent infection. Mtb is continually exposed to endogenous reactive oxygen species (ROS) as part of normal aerobic respiration, as well as exogenous ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) generated by the host immune system in response to infection. The magnitude of tuberculosis (TB) disease is further amplified by exposure to xenobiotics from the environment such as cigarette smoke and air pollution, causing disruption of the intracellular prooxidant-antioxidant balance. Both oxidative and reductive stresses induce redox cascades that alter Mtb signal transduction, DNA and RNA synthesis, protein synthesis and antimycobacterial drug resistance. As reviewed in this article, Mtb has evolved specific mechanisms to protect itself against endogenously produced oxidants, as well as defend against host and environmental oxidants and reductants found specifically within the microenvironments of the lung. Maintaining an appropriate redox balance is critical to the clinical outcome because several antimycobacterial prodrugs are only effective upon bioreductive activation. Proper homeostasis of oxido-reductive systems is essential for Mtb survival, persistence and subsequent reactivation. The progress and remaining deficiencies in understanding Mtb redox homeostasis are also discussed.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kumar A; Farhana A; Guidry L; Saini V; Hondalus M; Steyn AJC
  • Volume

  • 13