An international research team led by scientists from the University of St Andrews has discovered how bacteria are able to cover their surface under a cloak of carbohydrate molecules to prevent being detected and targeted. Bacteria use a newly discovered protein that allows them to transport a cloak of carbohydrates from inside the bacterial cell that makes them invisible to the immune system.
The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), raises the possibility that new drugs could be developed to disrupt the cloak and allow the immune system to attack the bacteria.
The bacteria's outer membrane is oil-based so it forms an effective barrier between the water-based interior and exterior of the cell. The research team has discovered that the bacterium safely transports the carbohydrates through the membrane using a previously unknown protein called Wza. The hollow inner part of the Wza protein creates a tunnel for the carbohydrates to pass through the cell membrane. While the protein is open to the cell's exterior, it is closed at the interior end and only opens to let the molecules through.
"Wza's shape and position in the cell membrane allows the bacterium to perform a very difficult trick", says Professor James Naismith of the Centre for Biomolecular Sciences at the University of St Andrews. "It acts much like an airlock. Wza allows the carbohydrate from inside the cell to cross the outer membrane without creating a hole that could cause the cell contents to leak out. It forms a 'protein tunnel' and plays a key role in allowing bacteria to invade the body under the radar of the immune system."
Moving forward drugs could be developed to block carbohydrates from passing through the membrane, or prevent the protein tunnel from closing again.Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said:
Press Office | alfa
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy