Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urinary tract infection: How bacteria nestle in

07.03.2016

Almost every second woman suffers from a bladder infection at some point in her life. Also men are affected by cystitis, though less frequently. In eighty percent of the cases, it is caused by the intestinal bacterium E. coli. It travels along the urethra to the bladder where it triggers painful infections. In “Nature Communications” researchers from the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich explain how this bacterium attaches to the surface of the urinary tract via a protein with a sophisticated locking technique, which prevents it from being flushed out by the urine flow.

Many women have already experienced how painful a bladder infection can be: a burning pain during urination and a constant urge to urinate are the typical symptoms. The main cause of recurrent urinary tract infections is a bacterium found in the normal flora of the intestine, Escherichia coli. The bacteria enter the urinary tract, attach to the surface and cause inflammation.


Using the protein FimH (yellow/red) located at the tip of long protrusions, the bacterial pathogen E. coli (grey) attaches to cell surfaces of the urinary tract.

Maximilian Sauer, ETH Zürich

The teams of Prof. Timm Maier at the Biozentrum and Prof. Beat Ernst at the Pharmazentrum of the University of Basel, along with Prof. Rudolf Glockshuber from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the ETH Zurich, have now discovered how bacteria adhere to the urinary tract under urine flow via the protein FimH and subsequently travel up the urethra.

Intestinal bacterium adheres to the cell surfaces with the protein FimH

The pathogen has long, hairlike appendages with the protein FimH at its tip, forming a tiny hook. This protein, which adheres to sugar structures on the cell surface, has a special property: It binds more tightly to the cell surface of the urinary tract the more it is pulled. As strong tensile forces develop during urination, FimH can protect the bacterium from being flushed out.

“Through the combination of several biophysical and biochemical methods, we have been able to elucidate the binding behavior of FimH in more detail than ever before”, says Glockshuber. In their study, the scientists have demonstrated how mechanical forces control the binding strength of FimH.

“The protein FimH is composed of two parts, of which the second non-sugar binding part regulates how tightly the first part binds to the sugar molecule“, explains Maier. “When the force of the urine stream pulls apart the two protein domains, the sugar binding site snaps shut. However, when the tensile force subsides, the binding pocket reopens. Now the bacteria can detach and swim upstream the urethra.”

Drugs against FimH to combat urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections are the second most common reason for prescribing antibiotics. Yet, in times of increasing antibiotic resistance, the focus moves increasingly to finding alternative forms of treatment. For the prevention and therapy of E. coli infections, drugs that could prevent the initial FimH attachment of the bacteria to the urinary tract could prove to be a suitable alternative, as this would make the use of antibiotics often unnecessary.

This opens up the possibility of reducing the use of antibiotics and thus preventing the further development of resistance. Prof. Ernst, from the Pharmazentrum of the University of Basel, has been working intensively on the development of FimH antagonists for many years. The elucidation of the FimH mechanism supports these efforts and will greatly contribute to the identification of a suitable drug.

Original article
Maximilian M. Sauer, Roman P. Jakob, Jonathan Eras, Sefer Baday, Deniz Eriş, Giulio Navarra, Simon Bernèche, Beat Ernst, Timm Maier, Rudi Glockshuber
Catch-bond mechanism of the bacterial adhesin FimH
Nature Communications (2016), doi: 10.1038/ncomms10738

Further information
Prof. Dr. Timm Maier, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 267 21 76, email:: timm.maier@unibas.ch
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Glockshuber, ETH Zürich, Institute of Molecular Biology & Biophysics, tel. +41 44 633 68 19, email: rudi@mol.biol.ethz.ch
Dr. Katrin Bühler, University of Basel, Biozentrum, Communications, tel. +41 61 267 09 74, email: katrin.buehler@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Urinary-tract-infection-H...

Katrin Bühler | Universität Basel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>