Thermal control of virulence factors in bacteria: a hot topic.
Lam O., Wheeler J., Tang CM.
Pathogenic bacteria sense environmental cues, including the local temperature, to control the production of key virulence factors. Thermal regulation can be achieved at the level of DNA, RNA or protein and although many virulence factors are subject to thermal regulation, the exact mechanisms of control are yet to be elucidated in many instances. Understanding how virulence factors are regulated by temperature presents a significant challenge, as gene expression and protein production are often influenced by complex regulatory networks involving multiple transcription factors in bacteria. Here we highlight some recent insights into thermal regulation of virulence in pathogenic bacteria. We focus on bacteria which cause disease in mammalian hosts, which are at a significantly higher temperature than the outside environment. We outline the mechanisms of thermal regulation and how understanding this fundamental aspect of the biology of bacteria has implications for pathogenesis and human health.