Role of proline in pathogen and host interactions

Shelbi L. Christgen, Donald F. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Significance: Proline metabolism has complex roles in a variety of biological processes, including cell signaling, stress protection, and energy production. Proline also contributes to the pathogenesis of various disease-causing organisms. Understanding the mechanisms of how pathogens utilize proline is important for developing new strategies against infectious diseases. Recent Advances: The ability of pathogens to acquire amino acids is critical during infection. Besides protein biosynthesis, some amino acids, such as proline, serve as a carbon, nitrogen, or energy source in bacterial and protozoa pathogens. The role of proline during infection depends on the physiology of the host/pathogen interactions. Some pathogens rely on proline as a critical respiratory substrate, whereas others exploit proline for stress protection. Critical Issues: Disruption of proline metabolism and uptake has been shown to significantly attenuate virulence of certain pathogens, whereas in other pathogens the importance of proline during infection is not known. Inhibiting proline metabolism and transport may be a useful therapeutic strategy against some pathogens. Developing specific inhibitors to avoid off-target effects in the host, however, will be challenging. Also, potential treatments that target proline metabolism should consider the impact on intracellular levels of Δ 1 -pyrroline-5-carboxylate, a metabolite intermediate that can have opposing effects on pathogenesis. Future Directions: Further characterization of how proline metabolism is regulated during infection would provide new insights into the role of proline in pathogenesis. Biochemical and structural characterization of proline metabolic enzymes from different pathogens could lead to new tools for exploring proline metabolism during infection and possibly new therapeutic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-709
Number of pages27
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • PutA
  • metabolism
  • pathogenesis
  • proline
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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