The Texas A&M researchers' work is published in the renowned journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
The attackers are called phages, or bacteriophages, meaning eaters of bacteria.
The word bacteriophage is derived from the Greek "phagein," meaning eater of bacteria.
"The phages first attach to the bacteria and then inject their DNA," says Sun Qingan, coauthor of the article and a doctoral student at Texas A&M. "Then they reproduce inside the cell cytoplasm."
After more than 100 phage particles have been assembled, the next step is to be released from the bacterial host, so that the progeny virions can find other hosts and repeat the reproduction cycle, Sun adds.
Besides the cell membrane, the phages have another obstacle on their way out – a hard shell called cell wall that protects the bacteria. Only by destroying the cell wall can the phages release their offspring.
But, don't worry. The phages have a secret weapon – an enzyme that can destroy the wall from inside, thus called endolysin.
"One of the special examples, R21, remains inactive when it is first synthesized and attached to the membrane as demonstrated in our paper," Sun explains. "But when the enzyme leaves the membrane, it restructures just like a transformer and gains the power to destroy the cell wall."
The trigger controlling the transformation process is a segment of the enzyme call the SAR domain, according to the Texas A&M team.
"The SAR domain is like the commander – it tells the enzyme when to begin restructuring and destroying the cell wall," he says. "This finding enables us to better understand the release process and provides us with a possible target when we want to control the destruction of bacteria cell walls or prohibit this action in some infectious diseases."
Some research has been conducted to explore the possibility of using phages to kill bacteria and thus treating bacterial infections.
Sun and colleagues' finding unveils one secret of the phages and may be useful in phage therapy and other applications.
Contact: Sun Qingan at (979) 862-7639 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Miao Jingang at email@example.com.
About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.
Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tamutalk.
The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona
Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research