Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A lead to overcome resistance to antibiotics

06.10.2016

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium of our environment. It can however become a formidable pathogen causing fatal infections, especially in intubated patients, people suffering from cystic fibrosis or severe burns. The presence of certain metals in the natural or human environment of the bacterium makes it more dangerous and, in particular, resistant to antibiotics of last resort.

A team of researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has shown that a specific protein of P. aeruginosa, called Host factor q (Hfq), is essential for reacting to these metals and acquire these new properties. The results, presented in the special issue Virulence Gene Regulation in Bacteria of the journal Genes, single out the Hfq protein as the Achilles heel of P. aeruginosa. Indeed, blocking its action could make this pathogen unable to adapt to a new environment and to resist to certain antibiotics.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

© Karl Perron, UNIGE

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous bacterium found in both land and water. This organism is known as opportunistic, as it is able to produce various virulence factors and to adapt to its environment to invade, colonize and survive within human beings, taking advantage of a weakening of its host to become pathogenic. The infections it causes are often difficult, if not impossible to treat because of a resistance to many types of antibiotics.

Abnormal amounts of metals

‘We had discovered that high concentrations of metals, such as zinc, could induce a resistance to carbapenems, which are antibiotics of last resort, as well as an increase in the production of virulence factors’, says Karl Perron, researcher at the Department of Botany and Plant Biology of the UNIGE Faculty of Science. This metal may be present in abnormal amounts in the lung secretions of cystic fibrosis patients and in some urinary catheters, contributing to an increase in the pathogenicity of the bacterium and to treatment failure. 

Some antibiotics must penetrate the bacteria to exert their effet. Carbapenems, for example, pass through a specific porin, a sort of channel normally used to import nutrients. When the bacterium is present in an environment containing an excess of zinc, it becomes resistant to carbapenems. ‘We had observed that zinc and other metals induce a suppression of the production of this porin, but we did not know exactly how’, specifies Verena Ducret, biologist in the Geneva group and first author of the article.

Target the bacterium without affecting the host

The team of Karl Perron has solved this enigma by uncovering the central role of a bacterial protein called Host factor q (Hfq). ‘This chaperone, a molecular assistant that allows the bacterium to adjust the synthesis of various proteins according to its needs, inhibits the synthesis of certain porins by intervening at several levels of the production chain’, explains Verena Ducret. By studying a bacterium that does not express Hfq, the scientists have thus discovered a real Achilles heel, because the mutant is unable to respond to zinc and other metals. Therefore, it cannot express its virulence or become resistant to carbapenems in the presence of these metals.

Since the different pathways leading to the inhibition of the production of this porin use Hfq, this chaperone becomes a promising therapeutic target. ‘We are looking for different inhibitors of Hfq that act on Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains. These drugs should counter all of the pathogen’s direct and indirect effects without affecting the host cells, because they do not have proteins such as Hfq’, says Karl Perron.

For further information, please contact:

Julie Michaud

julie.michaud@unige.ch

Julie Michaud | AlphaGalileo

Further reports about: Achilles Pseudomonas aeruginosa aeruginosa antibiotics proteins

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>