The replication and growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are fundamentally linked to the synthesis and extension of its complex cell wall. Incorporation of new wall material must be tightly regulated so that its deposition does not compromise the extant structure. M. tuberculosis also produces an impressive array of complex bioactive lipids that are intimately involved in pathogenesis and protective immunity. The profiles of these lipids are regulated appropriately to allow the bacterium to respond to the prevailing conditions it faces in vivo. A number of regulatory strategies employed by M. tuberculosis to control cell wall biosynthesis and cell division have now been elucidated. The review highlights the role of alternative sigma factors with extracytoplasmic function in the activation of genes for biosynthesis of complex lipids involved in pathogenicity. RelMtb and CRPMt play roles in cell wall responses to general nutrient deprivation by synthesis and sensing of starvation second messengers, respectively. Recently, the importance of protein phosphorylation networks in cell wall biosynthesis has attracted considerable interest. A plethora of two-component and eukaryotic-like serine/threonine protein kinases systems have been discovered and several are implicated in cell-division, morphogenesis and regulation of the profile of complex bioactive lipids elaborated by the pathogen.
Keywords: Regulation, Mycobacterium, tuberculosis, intramembrane proteolysis, sigma factor, protein kinase, stringent response, starvation
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