Mycobacterial persistence: adaptation to a changing environment

Trends Microbiol. 2001 Dec;9(12):597-605. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(01)02238-7.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a bacterial pathogen that can persist within an infected individual for extended periods of time without causing overt, clinical disease, in a state normally referred to as latent or chronic tuberculosis. Although the replicative state of the bacterium during this period is a matter of some conjecture, recent developments have indicated that the bacterium requires the regulated expression of a set of genes and metabolic pathways to maintain a persistent infection in an immunocompetent host. The characterization of these gene products and their role in bacterial metabolism and physiology is starting to provide insights into the mechanisms that M. tuberculosis has evolved to adopt its highly successful mode of pathogenicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins