Metal ions fulfil a plethora of essential roles within bacterial pathogens. In addition to acting as necessary cofactors for cellular proteins, making them indispensable for both protein structure and function, they also fulfil roles in signalling and regulation of virulence. Consequently, the maintenance of cellular metal ion homeostasis is crucial for bacterial viability and pathogenicity. It is therefore unsurprising that components of the immune response target and exploit both the essentiality of metal ions and their potential toxicity toward invading bacteria. This review provides a brief overview of the transition metal ions iron, manganese, copper and zinc during infection. These essential metal ions are discussed in the context of host modulation of bioavailability, bacterial acquisition and efflux, metal-regulated virulence factor expression and the molecular mechanisms that contribute to loss of viability and/or virulence during host-imposed metal stress.

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