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
Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons
The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences