Researchers from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland have discovered that urine actually helps a particular yeast stick to cells along the urinary tract. The finding might offer a new way to prevent or treat certain yeast and fungal infections, and the researchers work also provides an unexpected new role for some proteins already known to help hungry yeast live longer.
Writing in the March 18 issue of Science, the researchers report that the yeast Candida glabrata use a family of proteins called sirtuins to block access to genes that would otherwise help the yeast stick. The sirtuins, which also help regulate the organisms lifespan, require niacin, or vitamin B3, to work. But urine has only tiny amounts of niacin, so the sirtuins dont work, the genes are exposed, and the yeast can make the proteins that help it stick to cells in the urinary tract, the researchers discovered.
C. glabrata and its cousin C. albicans cause infections in blood and in mucosal tissues such as the urinary tract and vagina. C. glabrata is the second leading cause (behind C. albicans) of yeast infections, or candidiasis, in people with urinary catheters. Unlike some other yeast, C. glabrata cant make niacin and instead has to import it from its surroundings.
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