Nav: Home

Link between bacteria metabolism and communication could pave way for new drugs

June 01, 2018

Researchers have discovered a link between bacteria metabolism and cell-to-cell communication, potentially providing a target for new antivirulence and antibiofilm drugs.

Current drugs for bacterial infections aim to kill bacteria in large quantities, but such drugs are often eventually met with antibiotic resistance. Antivirulence and antibiofilm drugs, on the other hand, block toxic molecules produced by bacteria or prevent bacteria from forming thin, slimy films called biofilms (a common example is dental plaque). These mechanisms are controlled by quorum sensing: the process that allows bacteria populations to communicate and coordinate group behavior.

For example, biofilm forming E. coli can cause urinary tract infections. Thus, disrupting quorum sensing and biofilm forming in the bacteria could prevent those infections.

Quorum sensing is facilitated by signaling molecules called autoinducers. One particular autoinducer, AI-2, is modified by a protein called LsrK so that its signal can be perceived.

The findings, which were published in the journal Science Advances, shows that LsrK forms a complex with HPr, a protein involved in glucose utilization in E. coli.

"The fact that they are physically connected provides tantalizing evidence that these two very important pathways actually communicate," said Herman Sintim, a professor of chemistry and researcher in Purdue University's Institute for Drug Discovery.

The research team, which included scientists from Korea Basic Science Institute and the Universty of Maryland, made another surprising discovery: whether LsrK binds to HPr depends on whether there is a phosphate group attached to HPr, which is determined by glucose availability. When glucose is present, the phosphate group on HPr is transferred to the imported sugar, but when glucose levels are low, the phosphate group on HPr is not transferred. Thus, the form of HPr with a phosphate group accumulates.

"We've linked the absence of glucose or related sugars to the shutting down of the quorum sensing process," said Sintim. "When glucose is low, HPr, which now has a phosphate group, binds LsrK less. The uninhibited LsrK can modify AI-2, which facilitates quorum sensing. This means cooperation between E. coli and related bacteria could depend on the availability of glucose."

If researchers can find other synthetic molecules that bind LsrK and force it into an inactive state, like HPr does, they could prevent some bacteria from sensing their environment and communicating.

"If bacteria go into an environment and other bacteria are producing the language, they are forced to listen," Sintim said. "But now it looks like we might be able to close their ears."
-end-


Purdue University

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.