The ability to acquire manganese during infection is essential for the virulence of Enterococcus faecalis in animals, according to a study published September 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by José Lemos of the University of Florida College of Dentistry, and colleagues.
Manganese is an essential micronutrient for bacterial pathogens during infection. To prevent infection, the host limits manganese availability to invading bacteria through an active process known as nutritional immunity. To overcome this limitation, bacteria produce high-affinity manganese uptake systems to scavenge this nutrient from host tissues.
According to the authors, manganese uptake systems could be promising targets for the development of new antimicrobial therapies to combat infections.
“While we and others have shown that inactivation of certain genes and pathways can negatively affect the ability of E. faecalis and related bacteria to cause disease, this is the first time we have observed an outcome as dramatic as this in terms of loss of virulence in mammalian models”, notes Lemos.