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III Proteins Moonlighting in Bacterial Virulence

Chaperonins: A Family of Proteins with Widespread Virulence Properties

Chaperonin 60 Paralogs in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Tubercle Formation

Brian Henderson

Department of Microbial Diseases, UCL-Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, UK

Introduction

As tuberculosis re-emerges as a major health problem worldwide, we need to become aware of the dangers of a disease whose names - consumption, phthisis, white plague, scrofula - clearly show the level of fear that it engendered. Early descriptions of tuberculosis appear in classical Greek literature (in which the term phthisis, meaning “wasting away" originated), and the European artistic scene has many examples of individuals whose works were completed against the background of this disease. Writers such as Keats, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Bronte sisters and, more recently, Eric Blair/George Orwell, all died of tuberculosis (Bynum 2012).

The causative agent of tuberculosis is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In many regards this is an unusual organism, from a genus which is believed to have evolved 150 million years ago (Hayman 1984). Modern strains of M. tuberculosis are believed to have originated from a common ancestor some 15-20,000 years ago in the African subcontinent (Sreevatsan et al. 1997). However, it was only as recently as 1882 that Koch identified M. tuberculosis as the causative agent of tuberculosis, a finding for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905 (Daniel 2006).

 
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