Nav: Home

New mechanisms discovered that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics

November 13, 2017

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria evolve mechanisms to withstand the drugs which are used to treat infections.

The team of experts at the University's Institute of Microbiology and Infection focussed their research on E. coli, which can cause urinary and blood stream infections.

Using novel experimental approaches, involving whole genome DNA sequencing never previously applied in this area of research, the team identified mechanisms or 'strategies' that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics.

Senior author Professor David Grainger said: "We investigated a gene found in bacteria that is involved in resistance to multiple antibiotics.

"Although we have known about this gene for many decades, the 'nuts and bolts' of how it provides resistance to antibiotics has been difficult to pick apart.

"Our research identified previously unknown roles for this gene in controlling processes that provide drug resistance.

"We found two completely unexpected mechanisms that bacteria use to protect themselves from antibiotics. One protected their DNA from the harmful effects of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and the other prevented doxycyline getting inside bacteria."

Dr Prateek Sharma, who did much of the experimental work, adds: "The resistance mechanisms that we identified are found in many different species of bacteria therefore, our research could lead to the discovery of molecules that could be developed into new drugs that can treat bacterial infections."

The study, published today in Nature Communications, was the result of a decade-long research project carried out by the University. Co-author Professor Laura Piddock concludes: "Antibiotics underpin modern medical, veterinary and farming practices world-wide. However, the efficacy of antibiotics is decreasing as more bacteria become resistant.

"Research such as ours that provides greater understanding of drug resistance mechanisms is vital if we are to address the global crisis of antibiotic resistance."
-end-
For more information contact Emma McKinney, Communications Manager (Health Science), University of Birmingham, on 0121 414 6681 or email e.j.mckinney@bham.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world's top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.

  • Sharma et al (2017). 'The multiple antibiotic resistance operon of enteric bacteria controls DNA repair and outer membrane integrity'. Nature Communications. DOI: 0.1038/s41467-017-01405-7

  • The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant BB/N014200/1). Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is one of seven research councils that work together as Research Councils UK (RCUK). It is funded by the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support around 1600 scientists and 2000 research students in universities and institutes across the UK.


University of Birmingham

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.