A robust, broad spectrum antibiotic, and a gene that confers immunity to that antibiotic are both found in the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis Strain 115.
The antibiotic, a member of the thiopeptide family of antibiotics, is not in widespread use, partly due to its complex structure, but the investigators, from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, now report that the mechanism of synthesis is surprisingly simple.
"We hope to come up with innovative processes for large-scale production and derivitization so that new, and possibly more potent versions of the antibiotic can become available, says co-corresponding author Joel S. Griffitts. The research is published ahead of print in Journal of Bacteriology.
Strain 115 was originally discovered on turkeys that appeared to have enhanced immunity to bacterial infections. "The motivation behind our current work was a desire to understand the connection between Strain 115 and immunity to disease-causing bacteria," says Griffitts.
It quickly became clear to the investigators that Strain 115 could produce a potent antibiotic that targets a large number of medically relevant bacteria, including those that cause staph infections, strep throat, and severe gastrointestinal diseases. "We wanted to know the identity of this antibiotic and the means by which Strain 115 protects itself from its own antibiotic's deadly effects," says Griffitts.
"We found that the genes for both antibiotic synthesis and self protection in Strain 115 are conveniently clustered on a compact DNA molecule [a plasmid] that replicates itself as a small circle within the cells of Strain 115," says Griffitts. Among experiments they conducted to prove this, they engineered a version of Strain 115 that was missing the plasmid. That version failed to produce both the antibiotic and the immunity to the antibiotic.
The investigators then analyzed the mechanism of immunity. "Thiopeptide antibiotics kill cells by blocking a part of the ribosome," Griffitts explains. Ribosomes, common to all living organisms, are the machines that read the genetic code, producing proteins based on the instructions therein.
The plasmid, which directs the production of the thiopeptide antibiotic, also directs production of a spare part for the ribosome, a replacement for the part that is blocked by the antibiotic, which renders the ribosome insensitive to the antibiotic.
The investigation of Strain 115 began as an undergraduate project, after the bacteria had sat in a laboratory freezer for decades, says Griffitts. "It quickly grew into an effort involving two Ph.D. microbiologists, a talented graduate student, and several analytical biochemists." Hopefully, he says, the research will ultimately enable production of a valuable antibiotic, in quantities sufficient to make a dent in the antibiotic crisis.
The article will be published ahead of print on Monday, October 13. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the manuscript.
Journal of Bacteriology is a publication of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. Its mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.
Garth Hogan | Eurek Alert!
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
Pollen taxi for bacteria
18.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine