Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Trick Bacteria with Small Molecules

08.10.2010
A team of Yale University scientists has engineered the cell wall of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, tricking it into incorporating foreign small molecules and embedding them within the cell wall.

The finding, described online in the journal ACS Chemical Biology this week, represents the first time scientists have engineered the cell wall of a pathogenic “Gram-positive” bacteria—organisms responsible not only for Staph infections but also pneumonia, strep throat and many others. The discovery could pave the way for new methods of combating the bacteria responsible for many of the most infectious diseases.

The team engineered one end of their small molecules to contain a peptide sequence that would be recognized by the bacteria. In Staphylococcus aureus, an enzyme called sortase A is responsible for attaching proteins to the cell wall.

“We sort of tricked the bacteria into incorporating something into its cell wall that it didn’t actually make,” said David Spiegel, a Yale chemist who led the study. “It’s as if the cell thought the molecules were its own proteins rather than recognizing them as something foreign.”

The scientists focused specifically on the cell wall because it contains many of the components the cell uses to relate to its environment, Spiegel said. “By being able to manipulate the cell wall, we can in theory perturb the bacteria’s ability to interact with human tissues and host cells.”

The team used three different small molecules in their experiment — including biotin, fluorescein and azide — but the technique could be used with other molecules, Spiegel said, as well as with other types of bacteria. Another advantage to the new technique is that the scientists did not have to first genetically modify the bacteria in any way in order for them to incorporate the small molecules, meaning the method should work on naturally occurring bacteria in the human body.

Staph infections, such as the drug-resistant MRSA, have plagued hospitals in recent years. More Americans die each year from Staphylococcus aureus infections alone than from HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or emphysema.

Being able to engineer the cell walls of not only Staphylococcus aureus but a whole family of bacteria could have widespread use in combating these illnesses, Spiegel said, adding that any number of small molecules could be used with their technique. “For example, if we tag these bacteria with small fluorescent tracer molecules, we could watch the progression of disease in the human body in real time.” The molecules could also be used to help recruit antibodies that occur naturally in the bloodstream, boosting the body’s own immune response to diseases that tend to go undetected, such as HIV/AIDS or cancer.

“This technique has the potential to help illuminate basic biological processes as well as lead to novel therapeutics from some of the most common and deadly diseases affecting us today,” Spiegel said.

Other authors of the paper include James Nelson, Alexander Chamessian, Patrick McEnaney, Ryan Murelli and Barbara Kazmiercak (all of Yale University).

DOI: 10.1021/cb100195d

Suzanne Taylor Muzzin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu
http://www.opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=7862

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease
21.08.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

nachricht Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents
21.08.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

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....

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

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>