Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unmasking anthrax for immune destruction

Date:
May 7, 2010
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Anthrax-causing bacteria can be engineered to shed their invisibility cloaks, making it easier for the immune system to eradicate it, according to a new study. The work could lead to new measures to treat anthrax infection in the event of a biological warfare attack.

Overexpression of CapD results in a smaller capsule in Bacillus anthracis. Capsule is indicated as the clear area around the bacillus. Wild-type strain is shown on the left and the strain over-expressing CapD is shown on the right.
Credit: Arthur Friedlander

Anthrax-causing bacteria can be engineered to shed their invisibility cloaks, making it easier for the immune system to eradicate it, according to a new study published in Microbiology. The work could lead to new measures to treat anthrax infection in the event of a biological warfare attack.

Bacillus anthracis is a particularly lethal pathogen because it manages to escape recognition by the host's immune system by coating itself with a protective capsule around its surface. A key bacterial enzyme called capsule depolymerase (CapD) anchors the capsule to the cell surface. CapD can also cut and release some of the capsule into small fragments that are thought to interfere with specific parts of the immune system, offering further protection to the bacterium.

Scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases discovered that by engineering B. anthracis to produce higher-than-normal amounts of CapD, the protective capsule is chopped up and released as tiny fragments. The bacterium is left nearly completely unmasked and therefore vulnerable to immediate detection and destruction by the macrophage and neutrophil cells of the immune system. "By engineering B. anthracis to over-produce CapD, we are effectively turning the bacterium's own weapon on itself," explained Dr. Arthur Friedlander, one of the principal investigators in the study.

B. anthracis is the most commonly mentioned pathogen associated with biological warfare. This bacterium can form resilient spores that survive dormant in the environment for long periods of time. When these spores are aerosolised the bacterium can be very effectively distributed. After human inhalation the spores reactivate and cause severe infection that is usually fatal if left untreated.

Dr Friedlander believes his groups' findings could have significant clinical impact. "Many pathogenic bacteria, including B. anthracis, produce a capsule surrounding them that prevents the infected host from killing them, improving their chances of causing disease," he explained. "Understanding the mechanisms of virulence used by the anthrax bacterium is vital to developing medical countermeasures against it in the event of a biological attack."

Finding a way to encourage B. anthracis to unwittingly unmask itself, using the bacterium's own machinery would be a novel approach to eradicating the pathogen. "What is more, these measures may also be effective against strains of B. anthracis that have been genetically engineered to be resistant to antibiotics and/or existing vaccines," suggested Dr. Friedlander.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Scorpio, D. J. Chabot, W. A. Day, T. A. Hoover, A. M. Friedlander. Capsule depolymerase overexpression reduces Bacillus anthracis virulence. Microbiology, 2010; 156 (5): 1459 DOI: 10.1099/mic.0.035857-0

Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Unmasking anthrax for immune destruction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100501013527.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2010, May 7). Unmasking anthrax for immune destruction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100501013527.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Unmasking anthrax for immune destruction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100501013527.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
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