Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Trick Bacteria with Small Molecules

08.10.2010
A team of Yale University scientists has engineered the cell wall of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, tricking it into incorporating foreign small molecules and embedding them within the cell wall.

The finding, described online in the journal ACS Chemical Biology this week, represents the first time scientists have engineered the cell wall of a pathogenic “Gram-positive” bacteria—organisms responsible not only for Staph infections but also pneumonia, strep throat and many others. The discovery could pave the way for new methods of combating the bacteria responsible for many of the most infectious diseases.

The team engineered one end of their small molecules to contain a peptide sequence that would be recognized by the bacteria. In Staphylococcus aureus, an enzyme called sortase A is responsible for attaching proteins to the cell wall.

“We sort of tricked the bacteria into incorporating something into its cell wall that it didn’t actually make,” said David Spiegel, a Yale chemist who led the study. “It’s as if the cell thought the molecules were its own proteins rather than recognizing them as something foreign.”

The scientists focused specifically on the cell wall because it contains many of the components the cell uses to relate to its environment, Spiegel said. “By being able to manipulate the cell wall, we can in theory perturb the bacteria’s ability to interact with human tissues and host cells.”

The team used three different small molecules in their experiment — including biotin, fluorescein and azide — but the technique could be used with other molecules, Spiegel said, as well as with other types of bacteria. Another advantage to the new technique is that the scientists did not have to first genetically modify the bacteria in any way in order for them to incorporate the small molecules, meaning the method should work on naturally occurring bacteria in the human body.

Staph infections, such as the drug-resistant MRSA, have plagued hospitals in recent years. More Americans die each year from Staphylococcus aureus infections alone than from HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or emphysema.

Being able to engineer the cell walls of not only Staphylococcus aureus but a whole family of bacteria could have widespread use in combating these illnesses, Spiegel said, adding that any number of small molecules could be used with their technique. “For example, if we tag these bacteria with small fluorescent tracer molecules, we could watch the progression of disease in the human body in real time.” The molecules could also be used to help recruit antibodies that occur naturally in the bloodstream, boosting the body’s own immune response to diseases that tend to go undetected, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer.

“This technique has the potential to help illuminate basic biological processes as well as lead to novel therapeutics from some of the most common and deadly diseases affecting us today,” Spiegel said.

Other authors of the paper include James Nelson, Alexander Chamessian, Patrick McEnaney, Ryan Murelli and Barbara Kazmiercak (all of Yale University).

DOI: 10.1021/cb100195d

Suzanne Taylor Muzzin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu
http://www.opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=7862

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes
24.04.2017 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>