Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists gain new understanding of disease-causing bacteria

01.12.2009
For the first time, research elucidates the cellular structure of syphilis pathogen

A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute, the University of Connecticut Health Center, the CDC and the Wadsworth Center, have used state-of-the-art technology to elucidate the molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium which causes syphilis.

The previously unknown detailed structure of the bacteria can now be shown in three dimensions. This provides the first real image of the pathogen and reveals previously unknown features, which may help fight the spread of syphilis.

Cryo-electron tomography (CET) is a type of microscope that is used to obtain a three-dimensional reconstruction of a sample from two dimensional images at extremely low temperatures. Using CET, the research team has clarified the fundamental differences between Treponema pallidum and other gram-negative bacteria.

This research will be featured as the cover story in the December 15th issue of the Journal of Bacteriology. (http://jb.asm.org/content/vol191/issue24/cover.dtl) According to lead author Jacques Izard, Ph.D., this work provides a clear snapshot of a cell in real time. Added Izard, "This changes how we study this bacterium. Having an accurate architecture of the cell provides important insight for understanding how it becomes invasive in the human body. With this information we may learn how to stop disease progression."

After a sharp decrease in the rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the 90s, since the year 2000 the CDC has observed a steady increase in prevalence. The over 36,000 cases recorded annually affect both men and women as well as newborns with congenital syphilis.

Project Summary

Over a decade ago, the publication of the Treponema pallidum genome sequence provided a much needed parts list for the bacterium. However, scientists have learned very little about how these components are organized to create this extremely virulent and immuno-evasive pathogen. CET has emerged as a powerful tool for bridging the knowledge gap. With this technique, thin films of cells are frozen to preserve cell structure in a close-to-native state, avoiding degradation caused by preparation for traditional microscopy. A series of images acquired as the sample is progressively tilted in an electron microscope are used to generate a 3D image.

With CET T. pallidum cells appeared to form flat waves and did not contain an outer coat. This highly motile organism can attach to human cells by its tip. The present work has shown that the tip of this bacteria has a unique structure among pathogens, which improved the understanding of cell attachment and tissue penetration. Additionally, novel structural evidence explains how those bacteria mysteriously move with the flagella inside their cell body.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources.

Jacques Izard, Ph.D., is an Assistant Member of the Staff in the Department of Molecular Genetics at The Forsyth Institute. His laboratory is working to understand the role of oral pathogens in oral disease and their influence on systemic disease progression. Dr. Izard and his team focus on bacterial cell biology and the host response. To learn more about his work visit http://www.forsyth.org/research/scientists/profiles/jizard.html.

The Forsyth Institute is the world's leading independent organization dedicated to scientific research and education in oral health and related biomedical sciences. Established in 1910, Forsyth's goal is to lead the discovery, communication and application of breakthroughs in oral health and disease prevention that will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of the nation and the world. For more information about Forsyth visit its Web site at www.forsyth.org.

Jennifer Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.forsyth.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>