A Taste for Blood

Haemoglobin, which gives blood its red color, is perhaps the most recognized and well studied protein in nature. It is also a critical molecule during infection, as many microbes rely on hemoglobin to grow within their hosts. This paper reviews the importance of hemoglobin to vertebrate physiology and how humans attempt to conceal hemoglobin from invading pathogens. It gives examples of the elaborate mechanisms employed by microbes to acquire hemoglobin during infection, and discusses how genetic variations within hemoglobin affect susceptibility to infectious diseases.

Figure - Mechanisms of hemoglobin utilization by pathogens

Taste for Blood: Hemoglobin as a Nutrient Source for Pathogens. (2012) PLoS Pathog 8(3): e1002535. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002535

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