Published online Sep 7, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i33.7402
Peer-review started: March 27, 2016
First decision: May 27, 2016
Revised: June 3, 2016
Accepted: July 20, 2016
Article in press: July 20, 2016
Published online: September 7, 2016
Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), a Gram-negative microaerophilic bacterium, is a predominant cause of bacterial foodborne gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. Despite its importance as a major foodborne pathogen, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying C. jejuni stress survival and pathogenesis is limited. Inorganic polyphosphate (poly P) has been shown to play significant roles in bacterial resistance to stress and virulence in many pathogenic bacteria. C. jejuni contains the complete repertoire of enzymes required for poly P metabolism. Recent work in our laboratory and others have demonstrated that poly P controls a plethora of C. jejuni properties that impact its ability to survive in the environment as well as to colonize/infect mammalian hosts. This review article summarizes the current literature on the role of poly P in C. jejuni stress survival and virulence and discusses on how poly P-related enzymes can be exploited for therapeutic/prevention purposes. Additionally, the review article identifies potential areas for future investigation that would enhance our understanding of the role of poly P in C. jejuni and other bacteria, which ultimately would facilitate design of effective therapeutic/preventive strategies to reduce not only the burden of C. jejuni-caused foodborne infections but also of other bacterial infections in humans.
Core tip: Recent studies show that inorganic polyphosphate (poly P) plays several important roles in the biology of Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni), a major cause of bacterial foodborne gastroenteritis in humans. This review summarizes the latest findings on the role of poly P in C. jejuni stress survival and virulence, provides directions for future investigation, and discusses the potential of polyphosphate kinase enzymes as drug/vaccine targets to control C. jejuni infections in humans.