Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flesh-eating bacteria escape body’s safety net

21.02.2006


Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered that so-called flesh-eating "Strep" bacteria use a specific enzyme to break free of the body’s immune system, a finding which could potentially lead to new treatments for serious infections in human patients.



The research, reported in the February 21, 2006 issue of the journal Current Biology, focuses on the major human pathogen group A Streptococcus. Among the most important of all bacterial pathogens, strep is responsible for a wide range of diseases – from simple throat and skin infections to life-threatening conditions such as necrotizing fasciitis ("flesh-eating disease") and toxic shock syndrome.

"These findings suggest a novel approach to treating serious Strep infections, such as flesh-eating disease, by assisting our body’s own defense system," said senior author Victor Nizet, M.D., UCSD associate professor of pediatrics and an infectious diseases physician at Children’s Hospital, San Diego.


The UCSD investigators examined the interaction of Strep bacteria with neutrophils, specialized white blood cells that play a front line role in human’s immune defense against pathogenic microbes. Recent research by European investigators had shown that neutrophils are particularly effective defenders because they release "nets" composed of DNA and toxic compounds to entrap and kill invading bacteria. In the current study, the UCSD scientists proved that disease-causing Strep release an enzyme that degrades these DNA nets, thereby allowing the organism to escape the neutrophil net and spread in body tissues.

The UCSD team used a molecular genetic approach for their studies, knocking out the gene encoding the DNA-degrading enzyme from a pathogenic Strep strain that was originally isolated from a patient suffering from necrotizing fasciitis.

"Deprived of this single enzyme, the mutant Strep strain was easily killed by human neutrophils", said lead author John Buchanan, Ph.D., research scientist in the UCSD department of pediatrics. "In addition, the mutant Strep bacteria no longer produced a spreading infection when injected into the skin of experimental mice."

The critical role of the DNA-degrading Strep enzyme was confirmed by cloning the corresponding gene into a normally non-pathogenic bacterial strain. Addition of the single gene allowed these bacteria to degrade DNA, escape neutrophil killing, and produce a spreading ulcer in the mouse infection model. Special fluorescent microscopy techniques were used to observe how the Strep enzyme dissolved the DNA nets and allowed bacteria to float away from the neutrophils.

"The experiments explain how this DNA-degrading enzyme contributes to the severe infections produced by certain strains of Strep bacteria, while simultaneously confirming just how important neutrophil DNA nets are to our normal immune defense," said Buchanan.

Recognizing the critical role played by the DNA-degrading enzyme in progression of Strep disease, the UCSD researchers examined whether it could represent a target for therapy. Mice experimentally infected with Strep were treated by injecting a chemical inhibitor of the DNA-degrading enzyme at the site of infection. A dramatic reduction in bacterial counts and tissue injury was observed following the inhibitor treatment, when compared to controls receiving a placebo.

Nizet explained that the researchers’ findings could lead to novel treatments for Strep-related diseases. "Instead of attempting to kill the bacteria directly with standard antibiotics, a treatment strategy to inhibit the Strep DNA-degrading enzyme could disarm the pathogen, making it susceptible to clearance by our normal immune defenses," he said.

Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Why do animals fight members of other species?
24.04.2015 | University of California - Los Angeles

nachricht Is a small artificially composed virus fragment the key to a Chikungunya vaccine?
24.04.2015 | Paul-Ehrlich-Institut - Bundesinstitut für Impfstoffe und biomedizinische Arzneimittel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrons Move Like Light in Three-Dimensional Solid

24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences

Connecting Three Atomic Layers Puts Semiconducting Science on Its Edge

24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences

Understanding the Body’s Response to Worms and Allergies

24.04.2015 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>