Isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacterial pathogens

Microbiology (Reading). 2012 Jun;158(Pt 6):1389-1401. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.051599-0. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for cell survival. Over 35 000 isoprenoid molecules have been identified to date in the three domains of life (bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes), and these molecules are involved in a wide variety of vital biological functions. Isoprenoids may be synthesized via one of two independent nonhomologous pathways, the classical mevalonate pathway or the alternative 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. Given that isoprenoids are indispensable, enzymes involved in their production have been investigated as potential drug targets. It has also been observed that the MEP pathway intermediate 1-hydroxy-2-methyl-2-(E)-butenyl 4-diphosphate (HMB-PP) can activate human Vγ9/Vδ2 T cells. Herein we review isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacterial pathogens. The role of isoprenoid biosynthesis pathways in host-pathogen interactions (virulence potential and immune stimulation) is examined. Finally, the design of antimicrobial drugs that target isoprenoid biosynthesis pathways is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Terpenes / metabolism*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Terpenes