Mycobacterium tuberculosis defence mechanisms against aggressive oxygen: signalling and protection against overoxidation

Project Details


Oxygen is vital to the respiration of almost all cells. But oxygen is also a very aggressive molecule that can do serious harm to the cell’s building blocks. These harmful reactive forms of oxygen are called reactive oxygen species (ROS). In our body there are many essential proteins –composed of amino acids- that could be attacked by ROS and be damaged. This is certainly the case for proteins that contain sulfurous components, with the amino acids cysteine and methionine as the basis. However, over the last decade, it has become clear that ROS are not always harmful, but can also have a signaling role. ROS can turn a set of specific proteins, sensor proteins, “on”, and thereby alter their function and activity. Specific reduction systems then turn these proteins “off”. These sensor proteins act like reversible switches, and can pass on the ROS signal. As the ROS wave travels through the cell, these switches keep the wave on the signaling track away from fatal damage. The focus of this project is chosen on Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) because as a successful intracellular pathogen, Mtb has evolved powerful defense strategies to ROS produced by the host immune system in order to maintain its viability and to achieve long-term persistence in human organs. Understanding how Mtb uses the ROS code will be invaluable to have a comprehension of how these pathways can be manipulated, thus opening up new possibilities for the discovery of new treatments.
Effective start/end date1/01/1631/12/16

Flemish discipline codes

  • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
  • Laboratory medicine


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis