Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ironing Out New Details of Tuberculosis Infection

07.02.2006


Organization of two mbt clusters involved in the biosynthesis of lipophilic mycobactins. Illustration: Tarun Chopra


Scientists in India, led by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar, have identified five key genes that enable Mycobacterium tuberculosis to acquire the iron it needs to sustain growth and promote infection.

“Targeting genes within this cluster represents a good strategy for preventing tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections,” said Rajesh S. Gokhale, an HHMI international research scholar at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, India, and lead investigator on the study. “Because some of these genes are conserved across a number of related bacterial families, they are promising targets for drugs to treat TB and other bacterial diseases.”

The tuberculosis bacterium, which infects more than one third of the world’s inhabitants, is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide.



Gokhale and colleagues report their findings in early online publication January 30, 2006, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When M. tuberculosis infects humans, it takes up residence in immune cells called macrophages. To survive in this harsh environment, mycobacteria, like many other types of bacteria, need iron to carry out life-sustaining functions, such as creating proteins and synthesizing nucleotides to form DNA. However, free iron is not easily found in an intracellular environment. To obtain this rare element, most bacteria manufacture and secrete chemical compounds called siderophores that scavenge iron from the environment.

Researchers discovered siderophores—chemical compounds used by bacteria to scavenge iron from their cellular environment—well over 50 years ago, but the genes involved in adding the long-chain lipid anchor that enables M. tuberculosis to do so more efficiently, remained a mystery until now.

Mycobacteria have evolved siderophores with lipid-chain tails that enable them to exploit the macrophage’s lipid-trafficking system to capture iron more efficiently. Instead of using siderophores that diffuse freely, mycobacteria anchor their siderophores to lipid membranes by means of a long fatty acid tail. After these siderophores bind to iron within the macrophage, the lipid tail makes the iron “sticky” enough to permit delivery to the very compartment in macrophages where the mycobacteria are lurking.

Using microarray data, the available literature, and intuition, Gokhale’s group identified the location of the four genes that produce the lipid tail after observing that the expression of the genes significantly increased in response to low iron concentrations. The gene required for the synthesis of the siderophore core, called mbt-1, functions the same way, so Gokhale’s team named the new locus mbt-2 and the new genes mbtK, mbtL, mbtM, and mbtN.

“Now that the major siderophore genes and their functions have been defined, understanding the biosynthetic pathway provides an opportunity to develop small-molecule inhibitors with the potential for developing anti-tuberculosis drugs,” said Gokhale. His team has already determined that some of genes from the mbt-2 cluster is conserved across several other bacterial species that cause various pulmonary, skin, and organ diseases. Since the mbt-1 genes are also conserved across many bacterial families, the mbt genes appear to be ideal antibacterial targets for treating tuberculosis and other bacterial infections, he said.

Cindy Fox Aisen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hhmi.org
http://www.hhmi.org/news/gokhale20060202.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>