Calcium Regulation of Bacterial Virulence

  • Michelle M. King
  • Biraj B. Kayastha
  • Michael J. Franklin
  • Marianna A. PatrauchanEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1131)


Calcium (Ca2+) is a universal signaling ion, whose major informational role shaped the evolution of signaling pathways, enabling cellular communications and responsiveness to both the intracellular and extracellular environments. Elaborate Ca2+ regulatory networks have been well characterized in eukaryotic cells, where Ca2+ regulates a number of essential cellular processes, ranging from cell division, transport and motility, to apoptosis and pathogenesis. However, in bacteria, the knowledge on Ca2+ signaling is still fragmentary. This is complicated by the large variability of environments that bacteria inhabit with diverse levels of Ca2+. Yet another complication arises when bacterial pathogens invade a host and become exposed to different levels of Ca2+ that (1) are tightly regulated by the host, (2) control host defenses including immune responses to bacterial infections, and (3) become impaired during diseases. The invading pathogens evolved to recognize and respond to the host Ca2+, triggering the molecular mechanisms of adhesion, biofilm formation, host cellular damage, and host-defense resistance, processes enabling the development of persistent infections. In this review, we discuss: (1) Ca2+ as a determinant of a host environment for invading bacterial pathogens, (2) the role of Ca2+ in regulating main events of host colonization and bacterial virulence, and (3) the molecular mechanisms of Ca2+ signaling in bacterial pathogens.


Calcium signaling Calcium channels Calcium sensors Toxins Adhesins Biofilm Attachment Two component regulatory systems Secretion Bacterial pathogens 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle M. King
    • 1
  • Biraj B. Kayastha
    • 1
  • Michael J. Franklin
    • 2
  • Marianna A. Patrauchan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Molecular GeneticsOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Center for Biofilm EngineeringMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

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