Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Antibiotic resistant bacterium uses Sonar-like strategy to ’see’ enemies or prey

27.12.2004


For the first time, scientists have found that bacteria can use a Sonar-like system to spot other cells (either normal body cells or other bacteria) and target them for destruction. Reported in the December 24 issue of Science, this finding explains how some bacteria know when to produce a toxin that makes infection more severe. It may lead to the design of new toxin inhibitors. "Blocking or interfering with a bacterium’s "detection" mechanism, should prevent toxin production and limit the severity of infection," says Michael Gilmore, PhD, lead author of the study, and currently director of research at the Schepens Eye Research Institute and professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.



Gilmore and his team have spent years studying the bacterium known as Enterococcus faecalis, one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections, to find new ways to treat them. These infections are frequently resistant to many, and sometimes all, antibiotics. Tens of thousands of deaths due to antibiotic resistant infection occur each year in the US, adding an estimated $ 4 Billion to health care costs. Scientist have known since 1934 that especially harmful strains of Enterococcus produce a toxin that destroys other cells, including human cells and even other types of bacteria. They also knew that this toxin was made only under some conditions. Until Gilmore’s study, scientists were unable to explain how the Enterococcus knew when to make it.

In the Science study, Gilmore and his team found that this toxin is made whenever there is another cell type in the environment near the bacterium, such as a human blood cell. They discovered how these bacteria know when other cells are present, and respond accordingly.


In the laboratory, the team found that Enterococcus releases two substances into the environment. One substance sticks to foreign cells. The second substance reports back and tells the Enterococcus to make the toxin. If no cells are in the area, the first substance sticks to the second, preventing it from reporting back to the Enterococcus, and as a result, no toxin is made. According to Gilmore, "These bacteria are actively probing their environment for enemies or food. Based on whether or not they ’see’ other cells, they make the toxin appropriately."

Gilmore says this discovery has several significant implications for the future. "This is a new mechanism that nature devised to ’see’ the environment, and based on that information, respond accordingly. We may be able to learn from nature and adapt a similar strategy to help the aging population cope with loss of vision," says Gilmore.

"Secondly, this discovery will help us to develop new ways to treat infections that are resistant to antibiotics, making them less severe. Based on an understanding of how this toxin system works, we hope to develop toxin inhibitors," says Gilmore.

The third area of interest is currently science fiction, says Gilmore. "If bacteria can see cells in the environment, maybe we can tame these bacteria and engineer this system so that it can be used to see other things in the environment, such as minerals or possibly other disease-causing bacteria," says Gilmore.

Other members of the research team included Drs. Phillip Coburn, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Christopher Pillar, Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School, Wolfgang Haas, University of Rochester, and Bradley D. Jett, Oklahoma Baptist University. Dr. Michael S. Gilmore is presently Charles L. Schepens Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and Marie and DeWalt Ankeny Director and Acting CEO of the Schepens Eye Research Institute.

Patti Jacobs | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.eri.harvard.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>