Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, bacterium that causes syphilis

Date:
November 30, 2009
Source:
Forsyth Institute
Summary:
A team of scientists has used state-of-the-art technology to elucidate the molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium which causes syphilis. The previously unknown detailed structure of the bacteria can now be shown in three dimensions. This provides the first real image of the pathogen and reveals previously unknown features, which may help fight the spread of syphilis.

Electron micrograph of Treponema pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis.
Credit: CDC / Dr. David Cox

A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute, the University of Connecticut Health Center, the CDC and the Wadsworth Center, have used state-of-the-art technology to elucidate the molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium which causes syphilis. The previously unknown detailed structure of the bacteria can now be shown in three dimensions. This provides the first real image of the pathogen and reveals previously unknown features, which may help fight the spread of syphilis.

Cryo-electron tomography (CET) is a type of microscope that is used to obtain a three-dimensional reconstruction of a sample from two dimensional images at extremely low temperatures. Using CET, the research team has clarified the fundamental differences between Treponema pallidum and other gram-negative bacteria.

This research will be featured as the cover story in the December 15th issue of the Journal of Bacteriology. According to lead author Jacques Izard, Ph.D., this work provides a clear snapshot of a cell in real time. Added Izard, "This changes how we study this bacterium. Having an accurate architecture of the cell provides important insight for understanding how it becomes invasive in the human body. With this information we may learn how to stop disease progression."

After a sharp decrease in the rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the 90s, since the year 2000 the CDC has observed a steady increase in prevalence. The over 36,000 cases recorded annually affect both men and women as well as newborns with congenital syphilis.

Project Summary

Over a decade ago, the publication of the Treponema pallidum genome sequence provided a much needed parts list for the bacterium. However, scientists have learned very little about how these components are organized to create this extremely virulent and immuno-evasive pathogen. CET has emerged as a powerful tool for bridging the knowledge gap. With this technique, thin films of cells are frozen to preserve cell structure in a close-to-native state, avoiding degradation caused by preparation for traditional microscopy. A series of images acquired as the sample is progressively tilted in an electron microscope are used to generate a 3D image.

With CET T. pallidum cells appeared to form flat waves and did not contain an outer coat. This highly motile organism can attach to human cells by its tip. The present work has shown that the tip of this bacteria has a unique structure among pathogens, which improved the understanding of cell attachment and tissue penetration. Additionally, novel structural evidence explains how those bacteria mysteriously move with the flagella inside their cell body.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jacques Izard, Christian Renken, Chyong-Ere Hsieh, Daniel C. Desrosiers, Star Dunham-Ems, Carson La Vake, Linda L. Gebhardt, Ronald J. Limberger, David L. Cox, Michael Marko, and Justin D. Radolf. Cryo-Electron Tomography Elucidates the Molecular Architecture of Treponema pallidum, the Syphilis Spirochete. Journal of Bacteriology, 2009; 191 (24): 7566 DOI: 10.1128/JB.01031-09

Cite This Page:

Forsyth Institute. "Molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, bacterium that causes syphilis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130121443.htm>.
Forsyth Institute. (2009, November 30). Molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, bacterium that causes syphilis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130121443.htm
Forsyth Institute. "Molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, bacterium that causes syphilis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130121443.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
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