Necrotic cell death during TB infection is an important prerequisite for bacterial dissemination and virulence. The underlying mechanisms and the bacterial factors involved therein are not well understood. The Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) co-operonic PE25/PPE41 protein complex, similar to ESAT-6/CFP-10, belonging to the PE/PPE and ESAT-6 families of genes has co-expanded and co-evolved in the genomes of pathogenic mycobacteria. We report a novel role of this highly immunogenic PE25/PPE41 protein complex in inducing necrosis, but not apoptosis, in macrophages. We propose that these protein complexes of M. tuberculosis, secreted by similar/unique transport system (Type VII), have an important role in M. tuberculosis virulence and disease reactivation.
Keywords: Mycobacterium; PE/PEE; PE25; PPE41; Rv2431; Tuberculosis.