Isoprenoids are synthesised either through the classical, mevalonate pathway, or the alternative, non-mevalonate, 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. The latter is found in many microbial pathogens and proceeds via (E)-4-hydroxy-3-methyl-but-2-enyl pyrophosphate (HMB-PP), a potent activator of human Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cells. Listeria monocytogenes is the only pathogenic bacterium known to contain both pathways concurrently. Strategic gene knockouts demonstrate that either pathway is functional but dispensable for viability. Yet, disrupting the mevalonate pathway results in a complementary upregulation of the MEP pathway. Vgamma9/Vdelta2 T cell bioactivity is increased in DeltalytB mutants where HMB-PP accumulation is expected, and lost in DeltagcpE mutants which fail to produce HMB-PP.
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