Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Breaking up the Superbugs’ Party

Published: Friday, August 16, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, August 16, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs has taken a step forward thanks to a new discovery by scientists.

A BBSRC-funded multi-disciplinary research team at the University's Centre for Biomolecular Sciences has uncovered a new way of inhibiting the toxicity and virulence of the notorious superbug, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

These bacteria are resistant to many conventional antibiotics. It is almost impossible to eradicate P. aeruginosa from the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis and is therefore a leading cause of death among sufferers. The bug also causes a wide range of infections particularly among hospital patients.

The new discovery concerns the bacterial cells' ability to 'talk' to each other by producing and sensing small chemical signal molecules. This is called 'quorum sensing' (QS) and enables a population of individual bacteria to act socially rather than as individuals. QS allows a population of bacteria to assess their numerical strength and make a decision only when the population is 'quorate'.

The mechanism through which QS signals work is by activating gene expression upon interaction of a QS signal molecule with a receptor protein. In many disease-causing bacteria, QS controls genes which are essential for infection. These genes code for virulence factors such as toxins which cause damage to host tissues and the immune system. Interfering with the QS signalling process blocks bacterial virulence and renders bacteria unable to cause infection. Consequently QS systems are molecular targets for the development of new anti-infective drugs which do not kill bacteria but instead block their ability to cause disease.

In a study published in the journal, PLOS Pathogens, the Nottingham team has described how they solved the 3D structure of a receptor protein called PqsR used by P. aeruginosa to sense alkyl quinolone QS signal molecules so that they could visualize the shape of the QS signal molecule-binding site within the PqsR protein.

Professor of Molecular Microbiology, Paul Williams, said: "We were able to synthesize and screen a library of chemical compounds which could fit within the PqsR binding site and block receptor activation by the QS signal molecules. The active compounds were screened for their ability to inhibit QS and through a process of chemical refinement some novel potent QS inhibitors were discovered which were tested biologically on P.aeruginosa and shown to block virulence gene expression."

Professor of Macromolecular Crystallography, Jonas Emsley, added: "This ground-breaking work establishes a platform for the future evaluation and further development of these new QS inhibitor compounds as potential drugs for the treatment of P. aeruginosa infections."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Andy Richards receives BIA Lifetime Achievement Award
BBSRC Council member and life sciences entrepreneur Dr Andy Richards has received the BioIndustry Association (BIA) Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Scientific News
New Gene Therapy for Vision Loss From a Mitochondrial Disease
NIH-funded study shows success in targeting mitochondrial DNA in mice.
Self-Propelled Powder to Stop Bleeding
UBC researchers have created the first self-propelled particles capable of delivering coagulants against the flow of blood to treat severe bleeding, a potentially huge advancement in trauma care.
Tension Helps Heart Cells Develop Normally in the Lab
Stanford engineers have uncovered the important role tension plays in growing heart cells out of the body.
Controlling Body Temperature in Response to 'Fight or Flight'
New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that blocking TRPV1 protein causes an increased release of noradrenaline, leading to an increase in core body temperatures.
Inroads Against Leukaemia
Potential for halting disease in molecule isolated from sea sponges.
Researchers Disguise Drugs As Platelets to Target Cancer
Researchers have for the first time developed a technique that coats anticancer drugs in membranes made from a patient’s own platelets.
A Fundamental Protection Mechanism Against Formalin In Mammals is Revealed
Formaldehyde, or formalin, is well known to all of us as a common chemical used in many industrial processes and also as a preservative, remarkably we also produce formaldehyde in our bodies.
Drug Used To Treat HIV Linked to Lower Bone Mass in Newborns
NIH study finds mothers’ use of tenofovir tied to lower bone mineral content in babies.
Bone Risks Linked to Genetic Variants
A large-scale genomic study uncovered novel genetic variants and led researchers to an unexpected gene that affects bone density and fracture risk.
Combo of 3 Antibiotics Can Kill Deadly Staph Infections
Three antibiotics that, individually, are not effective against a drug-resistant staph infection can kill the deadly pathogen when combined as a trio, according to new research.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos