Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How bacteria talk to each other and our cells

07.11.2012
Bacteria can talk to each other via molecules they themselves produce. The phenomenon is called quorum sensing, and is important when an infection propagates. Now, researchers at Linköping University in Sweden are showing how bacteria control processes in human cells the same way.
The results are being published in PLOS Pathogens with Elena Vikström, researcher in medical microbiology, as the main author.

When the announcement goes out, more and more bacteria gather at the site of the attack – a wound, for example. When there are enough of them, they start acting like multicellular organisms. They can form biofilms, dense structures with powers of resistance against both antibiotics and the body’s immune defence system.
At the same time, they become more aggressive and increase their mobility. All these changes are triggered when the communication molecules – short fatty acids with the designation AHL – fasten to receptors inside the bacterial cells; as a consequence various genes are turned on and off.

AHL can wander freely through the cell membrane, not just in bacterial cells but also our own cells, which can be influenced to change their functions. In low concentrations white blood cells, for example, can be more flexible and effective, but in high concentrations the opposite occurs, which weakens our immune defences and opens the door for progressive infections and inflammations.

A team at Linköping University is the first research group in the world to show how AHL can influence their host cells. Using biochemical methods, the researchers have identified a protein designated IQGAP, which they single out as the recipient of the bacteria’s message, and something of a double agent.

“The protein can both listen in on the bacteria’s communication and change the functions in its host cells,” Vikström says.

Their laboratory studies were carried out on human epithelial cells from the intestines, which were mixed with AHL of the same type produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a tough bacterium that causes illnesses in places like the lungs, intestines, and eyes. With the help of mass spectrometry, they have been able to see which proteins bind AHL.

“We have proof that physical contact between bacteria and epithelial cells is not always required; the influence can happen at a distance,” Vikström says.

The team’s discovery can open the door to new strategies for treatment where antibiotics cannot help. One possibility is designing molecules that bind to the receptor and block the signal path for the bacteria – something like putting a stick in a lock so the key won’t go in. It’s a strategy that could work with cystic fibrosis, for example, an illness where sticky mucus made of bacterial biofilm and large amounts of white blood cells is formed in the airways.

Article: The Pseudomonas aeruginosa N-acylhomoserine lactone quorum sensing molecules target IQGAP1 and modulate epithelial cell migration by T Karlsson, M V Turkina, O Yakymenko, K-E Magnusson and E Vikström. PLOS Pathogens Vol 8 issue 10, October 2012.

Contact:
Elena Vikström, PhD, +46 (0)10 1032054, elena.vikstrom@liu.se

Elena Vikström | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.liu.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht UK chemistry researchers develop catalyst that mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis
26.06.2017 | University of Kentucky

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 we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Dune ecosystem modelling

26.06.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Insights into closed enzymes

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>