The human body is home to many different kinds of fungi. While the majority normally do not harm us, some fungi can cause unpleasant infections of skin, nails or lungs.
“We have discovered a new compound that has the potential to treat common chronic nail infections caused by fungi,” says Dickon Alley, researcher at Anacor Pharmaceuticals. “The compound, called AN2690, kills fungi by blocking their ability to make proteins.”
AN2690 interferes with an enzyme called leucyl-tRNA synthetase, which is involved in translation, one of the last steps in the process of turning a gene’s DNA code into a protein. The process begins when the cell makes an RNA version of the gene’s code, called messenger RNA. Ribosomes, the cell’s protein synthesis machinery, then translate the messenger RNA into protein by stitching together the amino acids in the order specified by the message. This requires the help of molecules called tRNAs, which link the code of the messenger RNA to the correct amino acid.
Leucyl-tRNA synthetase is one of a group of enzymes called aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases that attach the correct amino acid to each tRNA. Some of these enzymes have two main functional parts, or active sites: a site that links the amino acid to the tRNA, and a separate editing site that proofreads this process and removes wrongly added amino acids.
To find out how exactly AN2690 blocks leucyl-tRNA synthetase Stephen Cusack, Head of EMBL Grenoble, and his team generated crystals of the enzyme bound to tRNA in the presence of AN2690. Examining them with the high-intensity X-ray source at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Cusack and his colleagues found that AN2690 sticks in the editing site of the enzyme where it makes a very strong bond to the end of the tRNA, trapping it on the enzyme. This stops the enzyme working and thus blocks protein synthesis, killing the fungal cell. The mechanism crucially depends on a boron atom that is part of AN2690, which is needed to link the compound to the tRNA. It is the first time that scientists describe such a mechanism, suggesting boron containing compounds as a promising new class of drug candidates.
“Now that we know how AN2690 works, the same approach could be adapted to target other aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases with editing sites and also other pathogenic microbes,” concludes Cusack. “We are now working towards finding related antibacterial compounds that could help counter the problem of antibiotic resistance.”
Anna-Lynn Wegener | alfa
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Life Sciences
19.01.2018 | Life Sciences
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy