Bacterial Toxin Targets Discovered
News Nov 25, 2014
Research that provides a new understanding of how bacterial toxins target human cells is set to have major implications for the development of novel drugs and treatment strategies.
Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) are toxins produced by major bacterial pathogens, most notably Streptococcus pneumoniae and group A streptococci, which collectively kill millions of people each year.
The toxins were thought to work by interacting with cholesterol in target cell membranes, forming pores that bring about cell death.
Published today in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research is an international collaboration between the University of Adelaide's Professor James Paton and Professor Michael Jennings from Griffith University, and collaborators at the University of Queensland and Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine.
The team has, for the first time, shown that these toxins require binding to specific glycans (sugar structures) on the cell surface for efficient targeting of the host.
This explains why some cell types are more susceptible to the toxins than others, and also provides opportunities to develop novel drugs capable of blocking toxin-glycan interactions, thereby protecting host cells from toxin-mediated damage.
Professor Jennings, Deputy Director of the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University, says these findings open up a completely novel approach to developing drugs which may block toxin action.
"Understanding how toxins target particular cells in the human body is the first step in understanding their mechanism of action and how to block them from causing cell death."
Professor Paton, Director of the University of Adelaide's Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, says: "Interactions between CDCs and glycan receptors on immune cells also explains why these toxins have additional effects on host responses to infection, which enable the pathogenic bacteria to 'fly under the radar' of host immune defences."
World’s Smallest Tape Recorder Is Built From MicrobesNews
Through a few clever molecular hacks, researchers at have converted a natural bacterial immune system into a microscopic data recorder, laying the groundwork for a new class of technologies that use bacterial cells for everything from disease diagnosis to environmental monitoring.
Novel Chemistry Technique Simplifies Late-Stage Modification of Drug CompoundsNews
Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have invented a technique that overcomes a long-standing problem in organic chemistry and should streamline the process of discovery and development for many new drugs.READ MORE
Cancer Cells Prevent Immune Cells from Producing Cancer Killing ChemicalsNews
Researchers have identified a substance released by pancreatic cancer cells that protects them from attack by immune cells called macrophagesREAD MORE