Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secrets Of C. Difficile's Protective Shell Revealed, Paving The Way For New Superbug Drugs And Vaccines

Date:
March 9, 2009
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
The detailed structure of a protective 'jacket' that surrounds cells of the Clostridium difficile superbug, and which helps the dangerous pathogen stick to human host cells and tissues, is revealed in part in Molecular Microbiology.

The detailed structure of a protective 'jacket' that surrounds cells of the Clostridium difficile superbug, and which helps the dangerous pathogen stick to human host cells and tissues, is revealed in part in the 1 March issue of Molecular Microbiology.

Scientists hope that unravelling the secrets of this protective layer's molecular structure might reveal possible targets for new drugs to treat C. difficile infections.

C. difficile cell. The S-layer is believed to help C. difficile cells colonise the human gut, where they release sickness-causing toxins.

The new research was led by scientists from Imperial College London, funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme and the Medical Research Council. They used X-ray crystallography techniques to produce the first ever high-resolution images of the structure of LMW-SLP, one of the two proteins that make up C. difficile’s S-layer. The team also produced lower resolution images of the two S-layer proteins linked together to form the 'building block' which makes up the layer over all.

Understanding exactly how the S-layer is formed, and how it works, could reveal new ways of fighting C. difficileinfections, because without the S-layer, the pathogen cells cannot function, and die. The team behind the new study say that the long term aim is to use this structural knowledge to design a drug that will target the S-layer, leading to cell death, and the defeat of infection.

In addition, the research team behind today's study say that understanding the S-layer could be the key to developing a preventative vaccine for C. difficile. This is because the protein outer-shell of the pathogen is 'seen' and recognised as dangerous by the human immune system, triggering an immune response. This means that in the future, if the structure of these proteins is fully understood, they could one day be administered as a vaccine to pre-prepare the body to fight infection.

Professor Neil Fairweather, from Imperial College London's Department of Life Sciences, explains that his group's findings are an important in developing new treatments for C. difficile infections:

"This is the first time anyone has gained detailed information about the molecular structure of C. difficile's protective 'jacket', because analysing the two protein components is painstakingly difficult work. We're confident that continuing this work to better understand the formation of this protective coat and its exact function will reveal new targets for effective drugs to beat this dangerous pathogen, and could even lead to an effective vaccine."

The team's next steps will be to produce a high resolution image of the structure of the whole S-layer, and to further analyse the areas where the two proteins link together in the layer.

Clostridium difficile is a bacterial pathogen that is present naturally in the gut of about three percent of adults, and 66 percent of children. It does not cause problems in healthy people, but antibiotics used to treat other health problems can sweep away the 'good' bacteria in the gut, leaving C. difficile free to multiply dramatically causing severe diarrhoea and inflammation.

Because C. difficile is usually caused by taking antibiotics, most cases happen in hospitals or care homes. C. difficile is naturally resistant to lots of antibiotic treatments, and can recur once contracted. There are now more cases of C. difficile than MRSA in the UK, and in 2007 over 8000 deaths were associated with C. difficile.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fagan et al. Structural insights into the molecular organization of the S-layer from Clostridium difficile. Molecular Microbiology, 2009; 71 (5): 1308 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06603.x

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Secrets Of C. Difficile's Protective Shell Revealed, Paving The Way For New Superbug Drugs And Vaccines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227072652.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2009, March 9). Secrets Of C. Difficile's Protective Shell Revealed, Paving The Way For New Superbug Drugs And Vaccines. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227072652.htm
Imperial College London. "Secrets Of C. Difficile's Protective Shell Revealed, Paving The Way For New Superbug Drugs And Vaccines." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227072652.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins