Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strep bacteria uses a sword and shield to win battle against immune system

21.09.2004


A single gene called cylE within the important bacterial pathogen Group B Streptococcus (GBS), controls two factors that act together as a "sword" and "shield" to protect the bacteria from the killing effects of the immune system’s white blood cells, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.



GBS is the leading cause of serious bacterial infections such as meningitis and pneumonia in newborns and is increasingly recognized as a serious pathogen in adult populations, including the elderly, pregnant women and diabetics.

In studies with mice and human blood samples, published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of September 20, 2004, the UCSD scientists demonstrated the protective roles of two cylE-encoded factors, one that creates the unusual orange pigmentation of GBS, and another that produces a toxin called hemolysin that kills immune system cells as they surround and attack the bacteria. These findings could lead to new therapeutic approaches that disarm the bacteria and allow the immune system to do its work.


"A crucial part of the body’s defense against bacterial pathogens are white blood cells known as neutrophils and macrophages, which are able to engulf and kill most bacteria" said lead author George Liu, M.D., Ph.D., a UCSD research fellow in pediatric infectious diseases. "We predicted that the GBS bacteria had a unique ability to avoid the killing by white blood cells."

This unique ability turned out to include both the killing effects of the hemolysin toxin, and previously unrecognized antioxidant properties of the GBS orange pigment.

A major weapon that white blood cells use to kill bacteria after engulfment is the production of lethal oxidants similar to peroxide and bleach. Interestingly, the cylE-dependent orange pigment belongs to the family of carotenoids, similar to the compounds that give color to vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots. The anitoxidant properties of food carotenoids have long been touted for their potential health benefits against aging, heart disease and cancer.

"Just as colorful vegetables with antioxidants are touted for their ability to protect us against aging or cancer, we discovered that the GBS bacteria is pulling the same trick to protect itself against our immune system," said the study’s senior author, Victor Nizet, M.D., associate professor, UCSD Division of Infectious Diseases, and an attending physician at Children’s Hospital San Diego.

The UCSD experiments confirmed the importance of the antioxidant role of the orange pigment, as mutant GBS without the cylE gene was 10 to 10,000 times more susceptible to white blood cell oxidants than the disease producing strain.

The new findings are based on previous research by the UCSD group and others, that showed cylE controls the production of hemolysin, as well as the orange pigmentation of the gene. Removal of this gene created a mutant strain of GBS that lacked the hemolysin toxin and was plain white in color. When tested in animal models, the mutant GBS strain was unable to produce serious infections. In the current study, the scientists showed that the mutant GBS strain was rapidly cleared from the bloodstream of experimental animals and more easily killed by purified human and mouse white blood cells.

The hemolysin toxin was the "sword" that poked holes throughout white blood cells, such that in many cases the GBS actually killed the immune cell before it could kill the bacteria. However, even when hemolysin production was inhibited, the GBS continued to survive the white blood cell attack. In additional experiments, the orange pigment was found to be the "shield" that protected the bacteria. Combined, the toxin and orange pigmentation made GBS a potent warrior against white blood cell defenses and consequently a much more lethal pathogen.

"Recognizing the importance of these two properties for GBS infection suggests that novel drug treatments or vaccines that block the hemolysin or disrupt pigment production may be quite effective. Essentially, such therapies could make the GBS bacteria susceptible to elimination by the normal immune system of the newborn infant," Nizet said.

Sue Pondrom | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Decoding the genome's cryptic language
27.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>