The evolutionary pressures that have molded Mycobacterium tuberculosis into an infectious adjuvant

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Feb;16(1):78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2012.11.007. Epub 2013 Jan 3.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is highly immunogenic and appears to have evolved to preserve its antigenicity. The retention of antigenicity is important to the maintenance of a robust immune response that contributes greatly to the late-stage tissue damage required for transmission and completion of the pathogen's life cycle. Bacterial persistence is achieved through the remodeling of the tissue at site of infection and maintaining the lymphocytes at a distance from the infected macrophages in the granuloma core. The tissue metabolism within the granuloma leads to lipid sequestration that supports bacterial growth. However, growth on host lipids places metabolic stresses on Mtb, which has evolved to incorporate potentially harmful metabolic intermediates into the very cell wall lipids that induce the remodeling of the host tissue response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Granuloma / immunology*
  • Granuloma / metabolism
  • Granuloma / microbiology*
  • Granuloma / pathology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity*


  • Antigens, Bacterial