An intracellular second messenger unique to bacteria, c-di-GMP, has gained appreciation as a key player in adaptation and virulence strategies, such as biofilm formation, persistence, and cytotoxicity. Diguanylate cyclases containing GGDEF domains and phosphodiesterases containing either EAL or HD-GYP domains have been identified as the enzymes controlling intracellular c-di-GMP levels, yet little is known regarding signal transmission and the sensory targets for this signaling molecule. Although limited in number, identified c-di-GMP receptors in bacteria are characterized by prominent diversity and multilevel impact. In addition, c-di-GMP has been shown to have immunomodulatory effects in mammals and several eukaryotic c-di-GMP sensors have been proposed. The structural biology of c-di-GMP receptors is a rapidly developing field of research, which holds promise for the development of novel therapeutics against bacterial infections. In this review, we highlight recent advances in identifying bacterial and eukaryotic c-di-GMP signaling mechanisms and emphasize the need for mechanistic structure-function studies on confirmed signaling targets.
Copyright © 2012 The Protein Society.