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.

Related Articles


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 19, 2015 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 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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