The cellular "pumps" associated with multi-drug resistance in bacteria may also be involved in exporting signals responsible for cell-cell communication, a process known as quorum sensing, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We believe that the drugs exported by these pumps may actually be similar in structure to molecules involved in communicating," said Dr. Lynn Zechiedrich, assistant professor of molecular virology and microbiology at BCM. Thus, the drugs get exported by bacterial cells as if they were the usual communication molecules the cells use to transmit information in a bacterial colony.
While giving a patient a drug starts the process, the bacterial cell is "going down some natural pathway of cell-to-cell communication. Its trying to communicate, and when it does, it increases the number of the pumps to try to send out the molecules. The doctor is trying to kill the bacterial cells with drugs, but the cells just make more pumps to communicate better. The effect is that they get rid of the drug," said Zechiedrich.
Ross Tomlin | EurekAlert!
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