Inorganic polyphosphate in host and microbe biology

Trends Microbiol. 2021 Nov;29(11):1013-1023. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2021.02.002. Epub 2021 Feb 22.


Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) is produced by both bacteria and their eukaryotic hosts, and it appears to play multiple important roles in the interactions between those organisms. However, the detailed mechanisms of how polyP synthesis is regulated in bacteria, and how it influences both bacterial and host biology, remain largely unexplored. In this review, we examine recent developments in the understanding of how bacteria regulate the synthesis of polyP, what roles polyP plays in controlling virulence in pathogenic bacteria, and the effects of polyP on the mammalian immune system, as well as progress on developing drugs that may be able to target bacterial polyP synthesis as novel means of treating infectious disease.

Keywords: bacterial survival; immune regulation; pathogenicity; polyphosphate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria*
  • Biology
  • Mammals
  • Polyphosphates*
  • Virulence


  • Polyphosphates