Salmonella is widely prevalent in the animal kingdom. The reason we do not suffer from severe intestinal infections very often is due to our body's defence system, which manages to digest invading bacteria.
This is why, generally speaking, a healthy human being will only fall ill if he consumes more than 100.000 salmonella bacteria via a contaminated food source, such as eggs or meat. An international team of researchers, led by Prof. Ivan Dikic from the Goethe University in Frankfurt has now found out how body cells recognise salmonella and render it harmless.
Understanding this process at a molecular level is crucial in identifying new targets for treatment. Tropical and sub-tropical countries in particular, where various sub-species of salmonella are common, are experiencing a rapid increase in resistance to antibiotics, with children at greatest risk.
Salmonella infection begins with bacteria entering the epithelial cells of the intestinal mucosa. To prevent them multiplying there, special cell organelles, called autophagosomes are activated. These encircle the invaders and then become absorbed in other organelles – lysosomes – that contain certain special digestive enzymes, which break down the bacteria into their constituent parts. But how exactly do the autophagosomes recognise salmonella? Prof. Ivan Dikic and his research group at the Biochemistry Institute II have now shed light on this mechanism.
As reported in a current article in the scientific journal "Science", the salmonella are marked as 'waste material' by the molecule ubiquitin. In order for the autophagosomes to become active, the marked bacteria have to bind to another molecule – LC3 – on the autophagosomal membrane. Here, the protein optineurin plays a key role, linking the marked Salmonella to the autophagosmal LC3, thereby setting off a process of selective autophagy. But optineurin becomes active as a link only after being chemically modified by an enzyme, (in this case it is phosphorylated by the protein kinase TBK1). "We suspect that phosphorylation acts as a regulated switch to trigger selective autophagy of bacteria but might also prove significant in other cargoes like protein aggregates or damaged mitochondria" explains Prof. Ivan Dikic, underlining the importance of these findings. It is thought that impaired autophagy processes may be implicated in, among other things, the development of cancer as well as neurodegenerative diseases.
In the area of infectious diseases, these findings are particularly relevant in view of the fact that gastrointestinal disease caused by Salmonella enterica has rapidly increased since the mid-1980s. In Germany, approx. 30,000 cases were reported to the health authorities in 1985, but by 2005 the figure has risen to 52,000. Worldwide, 94 million people fall ill each year with acute gastroenteritis, and 155,000 of these die. Typhoid, a disease also caused by Salmonella, affects 16 million people annually and mortality rates reach 200,000, with children in particular falling victim to the disease. Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics so that the potential for treating disease is limited. Chloramphenicol, a formerly popular broad-spectrum antibiotic, is now ineffective, and even Fluoroquinolones, currently a commonly prescribed antibiotic, is proving inadequate in fighting bacteria. As co-author Prof. Dirk Bumann from the Biozentrum at Basel University puts it: "There is a pressing need to find new forms of treatment for infectious diseases. A better understanding of how the body's own defence mechanism makes use of autophagy will certainly help."
Publication: Philipp Wild et al: Phosphorylation of the Autophagy Receptor Optineurin restricts Salmonella growth, Science 26th May 2011 advanced online publication (Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1205405)
Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System
Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.08.2017 | Life Sciences