Bacterial virulence in the moonlight: multitasking bacterial moonlighting proteins are virulence determinants in infectious disease

Infect Immun. 2011 Sep;79(9):3476-91. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00179-11. Epub 2011 Jun 6.


Men may not be able to multitask, but it is emerging that proteins can. This capacity of proteins to exhibit more than one function is termed protein moonlighting, and, surprisingly, many highly conserved proteins involved in metabolic regulation or the cell stress response have a range of additional biological actions which are involved in bacterial virulence. This review highlights the multiple roles exhibited by a range of bacterial proteins, such as glycolytic and other metabolic enzymes and molecular chaperones, and the role that such moonlighting activity plays in the virulence characteristics of a number of important human pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Helicobacter pylori / enzymology
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity
  • Helicobacter pylori / physiology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / enzymology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / enzymology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / enzymology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / physiology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / enzymology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / physiology
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Virulence Factors