Microbiologists at the Universities of Münster and Nottingham, in England, have analysed an enzyme which might play an important role in the treatment of infections from the hospital germ pseudomonas aeruginosa. They have decoded the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme and revealed its function.
So-called hospital germs are a big worry for physicians and hygiene specialists as these bacteria can spell danger for people with a weakened immune system. This is especially true when the germs are resistant to one or more antibiotics and surround themselves with a so-called biofilm as a sort of protective shield.
Microbiologists at the Universities of Münster and Nottingham, in England, have now analysed an enzyme which might play an important role in the treatment of infections from the hospital germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa. They have decoded the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme and revealed its function.
Their work has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and has been given prominence as "Paper of the Week". This special honour is awarded to a maximum of 100 articles among the 6,600 and more that are published in the Journal every year.
The Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium is the fourth most common pathogen worldwide causing hospital-acquired infections. The germ is widespread and can be found for example in damp places such as washing basins and showers. In the case of people who have a history of illnesses or a weakened immune system, the germ can lead to pneumonia and blood poisoning, among others.
"The bacterium is something that hospital hygienists fear," says Prof. Susanne Fetzner, who initiated the project – funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) – and headed the Münster side of it. Pseudomonas aeruginosa forms a large number of so-called virulence factors. These include cytotoxins and tissue-damaging enzymes which help the bacteria to repel a person’s immune defence and make it easier for the pathogens to spread in the body.
As problems resulting from resistances to antibiotics are on the increase, scientists worldwide are following up new therapeutic techniques. These include the development of substances with an anti-virulent effect which do not impede the growth of bacteria, but instead block the formation of the virulence factors.
The enzyme the scientists in Münster and Nottingham analysed plays an important role in the production of the virulence factors of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. If this enzyme could be deactivated though medication, the bacteria would not develop pathogenic properties in the first place.
Steffen Drees, a doctoral student and the lead author of the study, explains this approach: "Bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa have a very interesting property: they communicate with one another by means of signal molecules. This enables them to sense how many bacterial cells there are in their vicinity. Only when the 'army' is strong enough the bacteria will start to produce their virulence factors.
If the enzyme we have analysed were blocked by means of medication, the bacteria would no longer be able to form any signal molecules. This means they would not notice that the population had reached the necessary high density of bacterial cells – and, accordingly, they would not form any virulence factors."
This enzyme is not the only bacterial protein which could be a target for therapeutic agents at the molecular level. Other studies show alternatives. "The enzyme we have analysed, however, is particularly promising," says biologist Susanne Fetzner, "because it is a key enzyme in the formation of signal molecules – and therefore of virulence factors." The scientists see their work as a first step towards a possible new therapy. "First you need to understand an enzyme in order to be able to develop agents which can deactivate it. And that we have achieved."
Drees S. L., Li C., Prasetya F., Saleem M., Dreveny I., Williams P., Hennecke U., Emsley J. und Fetzner S. (2016): PqsBC, a condensing enzyme in the biosynthesis of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa quinolone signal: crystal structure, inhibition, and reaction mechanism. The Journal of Biological Chemistry; doi: 10.1074/jbc.M115.708453
Dr. Christina Heimken | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences