New Antibiotics could Come from a DNA Binding Compound That Kills Bacteria in Two Minutes
News Jun 09, 2009
The DNA binding properties of the compound were first discovered in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick by Professor Mike Hannon and Professor Alison Rodger (Professor Mike Hannon is now at the University of Birmingham). However the strength of its antibiotic powers have now made it a compound of high interest for University of Warwick researchers working on the development of novel antibiotics.
Dr Adair Richards from the University of Warwick said: "This research will assist the design of new compounds that can attack bacteria in a highly effective way which gets around the methods bacteria have developed to resist our current antibacterial drugs. As this antibiotic compound operates by targeting DNA, it should avoid all current resistance mechanisms of multi- resistant bacteria such as MRSA."
The compound [Fe2L3]4+ is an iron triple helicate with three organic strands wrapped around two iron centres to give a helix which looks cylindrical in shape and neatly fits within the major groove of a DNA helix. It is about the same size as the parts of a protein that recognize and bind with particular sequences of DNA. The high positive charge of the compound enhances its ability to bind to DNA which is negatively charged.
When the iron-helicate binds to the major groove of DNA it coils the DNA so that it is no longer available to bind to anything else and is not able to drive biological or chemical processes. Initially the researchers focused on the application of this useful property for targeting the DNA of cancer cells as it could bind to, coil up and shut down the cancer cell's DNA either killing the cell or stopping it replicate. However the team quickly realized that it might also be a very clever way of targeting drug-resistant bacteria.
New research at the University of Warwick, led by Dr Adair Richards and Dr Albert Bolhuis, has now found that the [Fe2L3]4+ does indeed have a powerful effect on bacteria. When introduced to two test bacteria Bacillus subtilis and E. coli they found that it quickly bound to the bacteria's DNA and killed virtually every cell within two minutes of being introduced - though the concentration required for this is high.
Professor Alison Rodger, Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Warwick, said: "We were surprised at how quickly this compound killed bacteria and these results make this compound a key lead compound for researchers working on the development of novel antibiotics to target drug resistant bacteria."
The researchers will next try and understand how and why the compound can cross the bacteria cell wall and membranes. They plan to test a wide range of compounds to look for relatives of the iron helicate that have the same mechanism for action in collaboration with researchers around the world.
The research has just been published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents in a paper entitled Antimicrobial activity of an iron triple helicate by Dr Adair D. Richards, and Professor Alison Rodger from the University of Warwick, Professor Michael J. Hannon from the University of Birmingham and Dr Albert Bolhuis from Bath University.
Computation and Chemistry Combine to Create World-First Auxetic ProteinNews
A team of chemists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has now designed a two-dimensional protein crystal that toggles between states of varying porosity and density. This is a first in biomolecular design that combined experimental studies with computation done on supercomputers. The research, published in April 2018 in Nature Chemistry, could help create new materials for renewable energy, medicine, water purification, and more.
Fructose Formula Poses Risk to Babies With Metabolic DisorderNews
Babies with inherited intolerance of fructose face a risk of acute liver failure if they are fed certain widely available formulas containing fructose, pediatricians and geneticists are warning. Baby formula manufacturers should remove fructose or sucrose, or explicitly label their products to allow parents to avoid those sweeteners if necessary, the doctors say.
4000-Year Old DNA Helps Track the Spread of Rice Farming in AsiaNews
Rice farming spread far and wide in ancient Southeast Asia, but how it got there has been a mystery. Now, a study of 4000-year-old DNA—a rare find in this region—suggests it came with farmers migrating from China, where rice farming originated.