Metal ion acquisition in Staphylococcus aureus: overcoming nutritional immunity

Semin Immunopathol. 2012 Mar;34(2):215-35. doi: 10.1007/s00281-011-0294-4. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Transition metals are essential nutrients to virtually all forms of life, including bacterial pathogens. In Staphylococcus aureus, metal ions participate in diverse biochemical processes such as metabolism, DNA synthesis, regulation of virulence factors, and defense against oxidative stress. As an innate immune response to bacterial infection, vertebrate hosts sequester transition metals in a process that has been termed "nutritional immunity." To successfully infect vertebrates, S. aureus must overcome host sequestration of these critical nutrients. The objective of this review is to outline the current knowledge of staphylococcal metal ion acquisition systems, as well as to define the host mechanisms of nutritional immunity during staphylococcal infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Ions / metabolism*
  • Manganese / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metals / metabolism*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / metabolism
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity*
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Ions
  • Metals
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Zinc