Pathogenic bacteria must be able to sense and respond rapidly to signals emanating from the host environment and use the signals to modulate the expression of genes required for the infection process. Two-component signal transduction systems, and their more complex variants known as phosphorelays, are woven within the fabric of bacterial cellular regulatory processes and are used to regulate the expression of genes involved in the virulence and antibiotic resistance responses of a large number of pathogens of major public health concern. The emergence of strains of pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics has driven the search for new targets and / or modes of action for anti-microbial agents. The presence of essential two-component systems in bacteria and the central role that these regulatory systems play in virulence and antibiotic resistance has meant that two-component systems and phosphorelays have been recognized as targets for antimicrobial intervention. This review will discuss the role of these signal transduction pathways in virulence responses and antibiotic sensitivity of pathogenic microorganisms and their potential use as targets for antimicrobial therapy. In addition, the current status on the development of inhibitors specific for two-component systems will be discussed.
Keywords: Two-component system, phosphorelay, histidine kinase, response regulator, virulence
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