Lipoic acid metabolism in microbial pathogens

Maroya D. Spalding, Sean T. Prigge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Lipoic acid [(R)-5-(1,2-dithiolan-3-yl)pentanoic acid] is an enzyme cofactor required for intermediate metabolism in free-living cells. Lipoic acid was discovered nearly 60 years ago and was shown to be covalently attached to proteins in several multicomponent dehydrogenases. Cells can acquire lipoate (the deprotonated charge form of lipoic acid that dominates at physiological pH) through either scavenging or de novo synthesis. Microbial pathogens implement these basic lipoylation strategies with a surprising variety of adaptations which can affect pathogenesis and virulence. Similarly, lipoylated proteins are responsible for effects beyond their classical roles in catalysis. These include roles in oxidative defense, bacterial sporulation, and gene expression. This review surveys the role of lipoate metabolism in bacterial, fungal, and protozoan pathogens and how these organisms have employed this metabolism to adapt to niche environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-228
Number of pages29
JournalMicrobiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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