Salmonella causes food poisoning and kills around 1 million people worldwide every year; it is becoming more difficult to treat with drugs because it quickly evolves resistance to antibiotics by swapping genes with other bugs during "bacterial sex". These foreign genes help the bacterium because they make it infectious and resistant to antibiotics. Professor Jay Hinton's group at the Institute of Food Research in collaboration with Oxford Gene Technology, have discovered that a protein called H-NS switches off these incoming genes until they need to be activated - a process called gene silencing. This BBSRC-funded study, published today in the respected online journal PLoS Pathogens shows that without proper control the incoming genes make proteins that are toxic for the bacterium. Without H-NS, the bacterium has problems growing and can't function properly. H-NS allows the bacteria to evolve by determining how new pieces of DNA are used in Salmonella.
"We may have found the Achilles' Heel for Salmonella bacteria because they need this H-NS protein to acquire new skills and become infectious" says Jay Hinton, "Salmonella still kills a huge number of people. Discoveries like this will help us find new ways of attacking these dangerous bacteria; if we can inactivate H-NS, we could discover urgently-needed new antibiotics."
Hinton's team found that H-NS works by coating stretches of the foreign DNA, which can be distinguished from Salmonella DNA because it contains a higher amount of the molecules adenine and thymine (A and T). H-NS binding stops foreign genes producing protein unnecessarily. Once the bacterium has invaded a human, the effect of H-NS is blocked and the genes can be switched on.
"Gene silencing is well known in plants and animals, but has never been seen before in bacteria" Jay Hinton adds, "It looks like H-NS has helped Salmonella to evolve to infect humans over the last 10 million years."
The researchers hope that this discovery could lead to a new strategy in the fight against drug-resistant "superbugs".
Vicky Just | alfa
Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine