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Disease Markers
Volume 2014, Article ID 124218, 12 pages
Review Article

The Use of Functional Genomics in Conjunction with Metabolomics for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Research

School for Physical and Chemical Sciences, Centre for Human Metabonomics, North-West University, Private Bag x6001, Box 269, Potchefstroom 2531, South Africa

Received 20 August 2013; Revised 3 December 2013; Accepted 14 February 2014; Published 18 March 2014

Academic Editor: Andreas Pich

Copyright © 2014 Conrad C. Swanepoel and Du Toit Loots. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a fatal infectious disease, resulting in 1.4 million deaths globally per annum. Over the past three decades, genomic studies have been conducted in an attempt to elucidate the functionality of the genome of the pathogen. However, many aspects of this complex genome remain largely unexplored, as approaches like genomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics have failed to characterize them successfully. In turn, metabolomics, which is relatively new to the “omics” revolution, has shown great potential for investigating biological systems or their modifications. Furthermore, when these data are interpreted in combination with previously acquired genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics data, using what is termed a systems biology approach, a more holistic understanding of these systems can be achieved. In this review we discuss how metabolomics has contributed so far to characterizing TB, with emphasis on the resulting improved elucidation of M. tuberculosis in terms of (1) metabolism, (2) growth and replication, (3) pathogenicity, and (4) drug resistance, from the perspective of systems biology.