Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mechanism uncovered behind Salmonella virulence and drug susceptibility

30.07.2010
Although mechanism had not been recognized before, evidence shows similar mechanism of protein modification occurs in all 5 kingdoms of life

Researchers have discovered a novel mechanism in Salmonella that affects its virulence and its susceptibility to antibiotics by changing its production of proteins in a previously unheard of manner. This allows Salmonella to selectively change its levels of certain proteins to respond to inhospitable conditions.

Although the mechanism had not been recognized before, the scientists were intrigued to find evidence of a similar mechanism in all five kingdoms of life – animals, plants, fungi, protista, and monera.

The findings were published today, July 29, in Molecular Cell. The senior author of the study is Dr. Ferric C. Fang, professor of microbiology, laboratory medicine, and medicine at the University of Washington (UW). Fang also directs the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The lead author is William Wiley Navarre, who began the study as a postdoctoral fellow in the Fang lab and is now an assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

Salmonella enters the gut when people eat contaminated food, and can sometimes spread to other parts of the body. Illness outbreaks and grocery recalls related to Salmonella are often in the news. Babies, young children, the elderly, and people with cancer or HIV are especially prone to severe illness from Salmonella.

Salmonella is adaptable and can withstand many of the body's attempts to fight it. The bacteria live and multiply in a special compartment inside the cells of an infected person or animal. Salmonella can alter its physiology as it moves from a free-swimming life to its residence in a host cell. Salmonella's metabolism also changes over time to make use of the nutrients available in the host cell, and to survive damage from the build-up of oxidants and nitric oxide in the infected cell.

While screening mutant Salmonella that were resistant to a form of nitric oxide that normally stops the bacteria from dividing, Navarre, Fang and their research collaborators found mutations in two little-known genes. These are the closely linked poxA and yjeK genes. In a number of bacteria, these two genes are associated with a third gene that encodes the Bacterial Elongation Factor P, which is involved in protein production.

The researchers discovered that these three genes operate in a common pathway that is critical for the ability of the Salmonella bacteria to cause disease and resist several classes of antibiotics. Salmonella with mutations in either the poxA gene or the yjeK genes, the study noted, appear to be nearly identical and show similar changes in proteins involved in metabolism. Strains with mutations in both genes resemble the single mutant strains, an observation that suggests the two genes work in the same pathway.

The mutant strains exhibited many abnormalities under stressful conditions.

"The wide spectrum of compounds that dramatically inhibited the growth of these mutant strains suggest that the defect lies in a general stress response," the researchers noted. The mutant bacteria measurably differed from the wild-type Salmonella under 300 different conditions. In addition, their aberrant production of virulence factors reduces their ability to survive in the host.

The researchers' analysis also suggests that the way poxA and yjeK modify the bacterial protein elongation factor is essential in the production of proteins that allow the bacteria to use alternative energy sources when they are deprived of nutrients, as occurs after they enter host cells.

Unexpectedly the researchers found that the Salmonella with mutations in poxA and yjeK continued to respire inappropriately under nutrient-poor conditions in which wild-type Salmonella cease respiration.

Perhaps the mutant strains don't know when to quit. Wild-type Salmonella might enter a state of suspended animation to weather harsh conditions, whereas the mutants fail to respond properly to environmental stress. The fact that the mutants continue to respire when they are in dire straits might lead to the production of toxic oxygen-containing compounds.

"This might explain," the authors suggested, "why the mutants are broadly sensitive to a large number of unrelated compounds and cellular stresses."

The researchers also noticed a resemblance between the astounding manner in which the poxA gene modifies the bacterial elongation factor to regulate stress resistance, and the way a similarly acting factor is regulated in plant and animal cells.

During the manufacture of a protein, transfer RNA, also called tRNA, normally places an amino acid at the end of a growing chain of protein building blocks. A certain type of enzyme normally hands the tRNA the amino acid for it to place. However, in this study, researchers have shown for the first time that the poxA enzyme steps in and directly attaches an amino acid to the Elongation Factor P protein, rather than to the tRNA.

Fang said, "Sometimes it seems as if the most basic discoveries in biology have already been made. It was fun and unexpected to learn something new about a process as fundamental as protein synthesis."

"This is an interesting illustration of molecular evolution," Fang continued. "This essential, but previously unrecognized mechanism, for regulating the production of proteins appears to have been conserved over evolutionary time and continues to take place in cells belonging to all five kingdoms of life."

Future studies in his lab will address the specific reasons behind the defective stress response in poxA- and yjeK-deficient bacteria and the explanation for its different effects on the amounts of individual proteins. The lab will also look further into the roles of the normal poxA and yjeK proteins, the intriguing way in which the bacterial elongation protein is modified, the apparent universality of this protein-modifying mechanism in living cells and its conservation throughout the course of evolution.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Navarre also received support from the Damon-Runyon Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In addition to Navarre and Fang, the scientists on the study are Shicong Zou, Jinglin Lucy Xie, and Runjan Kumar, all from the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto; Herve Roy and Michael Ibba from the Department of Microbiology at The Ohio State University; Alexei Savchenko, Alexander Singer, and Elena Edvokimova from the Banting and Best Institute for Medical Research in Toronto; and Lynne R. Prost from the UW Department of Microbiology.

Leila Gray | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>