Sensing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and consequences to both host and bacillus

Immunol Rev. 2015 Mar;264(1):204-19. doi: 10.1111/imr.12263.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the primary causative agent of human tuberculosis, has killed more people than any other bacterial pathogen in human history and remains one of the most important transmissible diseases worldwide. Because of the long-standing interaction of Mtb with humans, it is no surprise that human mucosal and innate immune cells have evolved multiple mechanisms to detect Mtb during initial contact. To that end, the cell surface of human cells is decorated with numerous pattern recognition receptors for a variety of mycobacterial ligands. Furthermore, once Mtb is ingested into professional phagocytes, other host molecules are engaged to report on the presence of an intracellular pathogen. In this review, we discuss the role of specific mycobacterial products in modulating the host's ability to detect Mtb. In addition, we describe the specific host receptors that mediate the detection of mycobacterial infection and the role of individual receptors in mycobacterial pathogenesis in humans and model organisms.

Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; innate immunity; microbial pathogenesis; pattern recognition receptors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lectins, C-Type / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism
  • Receptors, Scavenger / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptors / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • Toll-Like Receptors