The emergence of multi- and extensively-drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis makes the development of
novel anti-tubercular compounds and the identification of alternative mycobacterial drugable targets urgent priorities. Recently, type VII
secretion systems (T7SS) have been discovered in mycobacteria. The genome of M. tuberculosis encodes 5 of such systems (ESX-1 to -
5), three of which have been characterized and shown to be essential for viability (ESX-3, ESX-5) or virulence (ESX-1, ESX-5). Because
of their crucial role in host-pathogen interactions as well as their involvement in basic biological processes of tubercle bacilli, T7SS/ESX
represent promising targets for novel anti-tuberculosis drugs. Here, we review the current knowledge of the T7SS/ESX and their impact
on M. tuberculosis physiology and virulence. Finally, we discuss the possible approaches to develop T7SS/ESX inhibitors.
Keywords: M. tuberculosis, secretion, virulence, drugs development, tuberculosis.
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