Av-Gay & Tocheva Labs

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The success of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a pathogen is well established: tuberculosis is the leading cause of death by a single infectious agent worldwide. The threat of multi- and extensively drug-resistant bacteria has renewed global concerns about this pathogen and understanding its virulence strategies will be essential in the fight against tuberculosis. The current review will focus on phthiocerol dimycocerosates (PDIMs), a long-known and well-studied group of complex lipids found in the M. tuberculosis cell envelope. Numerous studies show a role for PDIMs in several key steps of M. tuberculosis pathogenesis, with recent studies highlighting its involvement in bacterial virulence, in association with the ESX-1 secretion system. Yet, the mechanisms by which PDIMs help M. tuberculosis to control macrophage phagocytosis, inhibit phagosome acidification and modulate host innate immunity, remain to be fully elucidated.