Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacteria: Protein researchers decipher resistance mechanism

25.10.2018

Worldwide, resistance to antibiotics is on the rise. In order to understand why bacteria are becoming immune to previously well-functioning drugs, scientists are penetrating ever deeper into the molecular structure of cells. A research group at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has now succeeded in isolating a membrane protein from the E. coli bacterium and shed light on its molecular structure. Armed with this information, they have been able to show how the bacterium manages to rid itself of the antibiotic by forcing out the drug. The paper has been published in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".

Antibiotic resistance of bacteria is one of the most important medical issues of our time. Left unchecked, previously well-treatable bacterial diseases are at risk of taking such severe turns that patients might die.


The protein MdfA is located in the cell membrane of E. coli. During the structural transformation of one structure into the other (and back), the antibiotic is pumped out of the cell.

Milton Stubbs

"This is a real threat," says Professor Milton T. Stubbs, Director of the Centre for Innovation Competence (ZIK) "HALOmem" where the work was conducted. According to Stubbs, who has been researching the biosynthesis of antibiotics for many years, the danger this poses means it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

The current study is the result of work by a junior research group at ZIK HALOmem, led at the time by Dr Mikio Tanabe. Tanabe is now an Associate Professor at the KEK Research Facility in Tsukuba, Japan. The group succeeded in isolating a membrane protein called MdfA from E. coli bacteria and were able to determine its molecular structure. The protein first had to be produced in the laboratory, isolated in its pure form and crystallised.

"Dealing with sensitive membrane proteins is a very complicated process. Optimal conditions must be maintained in the laboratory so that the protein remains stable and keeps its native structure," explains Stubbs.

X-ray crystallography made it possible to visualise the structure of the material produced. Using this precise physical process, researchers are able to penetrate the Ångström range - one Ångström corresponds to one tenth of a nanometre, i.e. one ten billionth (10-10) of a metre, allowing researchers to work at a level at which individual atoms become visible. The ability to locate individual atoms in a molecule at this resolution holds the key to understanding how the protein works.

The process has revealed the three-dimensional structure of the membrane protein MdfA in the E. coli bacterium. The researchers from Halle utilised the results of a study that a rival group in China had recently published on the same protein and thereby succeeded in determining the mechanism that the membrane protein MdfA uses to help the bacterium become resistant.

The principle is reminiscent of a kind of pump mechanism. Although the drug is initially absorbed by the bacteria, it is ejected from the cell by MdfA before it becomes lethal to the bacteria.

"We assume that the mechanism discovered in this research applies to many other antibiotics," explains Milton Stubbs. This information will also provide the basis for later practical applications. "It is not until we understand the mechanisms of how resistances develop that we can look for solutions to prevent them."

The research paper has been published in the renowned journal "Nature Communications". It is also one of the first research papers to be published under the umbrella of the new Charles Tanford Protein Centre at MLU. "Such success, of course, is a testament to our research location," says Milton Stubbs.

Tom Leonhardt | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-halle.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea
27.03.2020 | Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg

nachricht The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research
27.03.2020 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

Im Focus: Stem Cells and Nerves Interact in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer Progression

Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.

Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....

Im Focus: Artificial solid fog material creates pleasant laser light

An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications

With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...

Im Focus: Cross-technology communication in the Internet of Things significantly simplified

Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.

Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...

Im Focus: Peppered with gold

Research team presents novel transmitter for terahertz waves

Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

MOC2020: Fraunhofer IOF organises international micro-optics conference in Jena

03.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>