Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Fool Bacteria Into Killing Themselves To Survive

16.12.2008
Like fireman fighting fire with fire, researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have found a way to fool a bacteria’s evolutionary machinery into programming its own death.

“The basic idea is for an antimicrobial to target something in a bacteria that, in order to gain immunity, would require the bacteria to kill itself through a suicide mutation,” said Gerard Wong, a professor of materials science and engineering, of physics, and of bioengineering at the U. of I.

Wong is corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is to be posted this week on the journal’s Web site.

The researchers show that a synthetic “hole punching” antimicrobial depends on the presence of phosphoethanolamine, a cone-shaped lipid found in high concentrations within Gram-negative bacterial membranes. Although PE lipids are commandeered to kill the bacteria, without the lipids the bacteria would die, also.

“It’s a Catch-22,” Wong said. “Some mutations bacteria can tolerate, and some mutations they cannot tolerate. In this case, the bacteria would have to go through a mutation that would kill it, in order to be immune to these antimicrobials.”

In their work, the researchers compared the survival of the bacterium Escherichia coli with that of a mutant strain of E. coli, which lacked PE lipids in its membrane. The fragile PE-deficient mutant strain out-survived the normal, healthy bacteria, when exposed to a “hole punching” synthetic antibiotic.

However, the opposite was true when both strains were exposed to tobramycin, a conventional metabolic antibiotic that targets the bacterial ribosomal machinery rather than the membrane.

The researchers first reported on compounds that functioned as molecular “hole punchers” last year in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Their latest work further elucidates the “hole punching” mechanism.

“The antimicrobial re-organizes PE lipids into holes in the membrane,” said Wong, who also is a researcher at the university’s Beckman Institute. “The perforated membranes leak, and the bacteria die.”

Finding new ways to treat emerging pathogens that are more and more resistant to the best antibiotics will be increasingly important in the future, Wong said. “Now that we more fully understand how our molecular ‘hole punchers’ work, we can look for similar ways to make antimicrobials that bacteria cannot evolve immunity to.”

With Wong, the paper’s co-authors include U. of I. graduate student and lead author Lihua Yang, materials science and engineering professor Dallas R. Trinkle, microbiology professor John E. Cronan Jr., and University of Massachusetts polymer science and engineering professor Gregory N. Tew, a U. of I. alumnus.

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Office of Naval Research.

James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

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...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

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...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

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...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>