With infections increasingly resistant to even the most modern antibiotics, researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) report in the September issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology on new clues they have uncovered in immune system molecules that defend against infection.
Drs. Michael R. Yeaman and Nannette Y. Yount present evidence that small proteins in the immune systems of humans and all kingdoms of life share fundamental structural and functional characteristics that enable these molecules to inhibit or kill microbial pathogens – even as these pathogens evolve to resist conventional antibiotics.
"These findings reveal that nature uses a recurring molecular strategy to defend against infection," said Dr. Yeaman. "A clearer understanding of this strategy provides new opportunities to develop innovative anti-infective therapies to better prevent or treat life-threatening infections that resist current antibiotics."
Most modern antibiotics work by targeting specific structures or functions in microbial pathogens. If the targets change due to mutation, pathogens can quickly become resistant to the antibiotics. In contrast, immune system molecules have retained the ability to fight infection – even as microbes evolve.
"While human ingenuity has thus far created antibiotics that pathogens seem to resist after just a few years, nature has created molecules in our immune systems that retain the ability to defend against infection even after millions of years of evolution," said Dr. Yeaman. "We have a lot to learn from nature."
The September article sheds new light on the molecular basis for the antimicrobial capabilities of these molecules. Drs. Yeaman and Yount report that a structure they discovered in these molecules in 2004 – known as the y core – allows for "hypermutability," or unusually high rates of mutation or modification at specific sites within these molecules.
To do so, the y core structure often contains a "b bulge" motif – a region that affords structural variations otherwise prohibited in protein biochemistry.
"The ability of host defense molecules to change so quickly and with such diversity may be nature’s way of keeping pace with rapidly evolving infectious microbes and other threats," said Dr. Yount.
These insights may drive new strategies for anti-infective discovery and development. Drs. Yeaman and Yount also said their discoveries significantly advance understanding of immune system evolution. Microbial pathogens are constantly moving targets; in turn – immune systems must adapt or lose effectiveness. Understanding how these molecules have continued to ward off infection could also accelerate development of immunotherapeutics to boost the body’s own defenses against infection or other diseases, and reduce the resistance issues that plague today’s antibiotics.
Laura Mecoy | EurekAlert!
A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich
New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine