Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Two in one - Multi-tasking protein provides new approaches for anti-tuberculosis drugs

In a paper published today in PNAS, scientists from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Hamburg, Germany, reveal new insights into the workings of enzymes from a group of bacteria including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. The new findings present possible new opportunities for developing organism-specific drugs, which target the pathogen but leave other microorganisms, which are beneficial to us, untouched.

Tuberculosis remains one of the largest threats to human health worldwide, and one of the most frequent causes of death in HIV patients. With the increasing emergence of strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that are hyper-resistant to drugs, it becomes ever more urgent that novel treatments be developed, and the search for novel strategies for drug development is an important step in this process.

In the current study, Matthias Wilmanns and his group at EMBL identified a multi-tasking enzyme from Mycobacterium tuberculosis that catalyses reactions on two different molecules, or substrates. In most organisms, cells need two specific enzymes, known as HisA and TrpF, in order to produce two essential amino acids – histidine and tryptophan. However, in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the encoding gene for TrpF is missing, and the two reactions are instead catalysed by a single enzyme, which is able to recognize and bind to two different substrates. This enzyme is known as PriA.

Using the Mycobacterium tuberculosis version of the PriA enzyme as a model, the researchers were able to unravel the hitherto unknown mechanism of bi-substrate specific binding observed in this group of bacteria.

“When we solved the three-dimensional structure of PriA, we found that it has the unique ability to form two different substrate-specific active sites,” Wilmanns says: “it can form a reaction-specific active site, or undergo what we call ‘substrate-induced metamorphosis’ to form a different active site.”

To further verify these observations, Wilmanns and colleagues screened 20,000 small molecule compounds, and identified a handful which inhibited both PriA-catalysed reactions but had no effect on TrpF activity.

“We believe that this ability for bi-substrate catalysis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis could be a new opportunity for future drug development,” Wilmanns concludes: “This organism-specific reaction process could be exploited, since only the pathogen but none of the other bacteria living in or on humans, many of which are important for our well being, would be targeted.”

Policy regarding use
EMBL press and picture releases including photographs, graphics, movies and videos are copyrighted by EMBL. They may be freely reprinted and distributed for non-commercial use via print, broadcast and electronic media, provided that proper attribution to authors, photographers and designers is made.
Sonia Furtado
EMBL Press Officer
Meyerhofstr. 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)6221 387 8263
Fax: +49 (0)6221 387 8525

Sonia Furtado | EMBL Research News
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders
24.10.2016 | Baylor College of Medicine

nachricht New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground
24.10.2016 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>