Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spread of antibiotic resistance understood by unravelling bacterial secretion system

Date:
March 9, 2014
Source:
University College London
Summary:
The system that allows the sharing of genetic material between bacteria -- and therefore the spread of antibiotic resistance -- has been uncovered by a team of scientists. Understanding the structure of the secretion system will help scientists uncover the mechanism by which it moves substances across the inner and outer membranes. It could eventually help scientists develop new tools for the genetic modification of human cells, as the bacteria could act as a carrier for genetic material, which could then be secreted into cells.

Bacterial type IV secretion system structure reveals how antibiotics resistance genes move from one bacterium to another.
Credit: Image from the Nature paper

The system that allows the sharing of genetic material between bacteria -- and therefore the spread of antibiotic resistance -- has been uncovered by a team of scientists at Birkbeck, University of London and UCL.

The study, published today in Nature, reveals the mechanism of bacterial type IV secretion, which bacteria use to move substances across their cell wall. As type IV secretion can distribute genetic material between bacteria, notably antibiotic resistance genes, the mechanism is directly responsible for the spread of antibiotic resistance in hospital settings. It also plays a crucial role in secreting toxins in infections -- causing ulcers, whooping cough, or severe forms of pneumonia such as Legionnaires' disease.

The work, led by Professor Waksman at the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (a joint Birkbeck/UCL Institute) and funded by the Wellcome Trust, revealed that the type IV secretion system differs substantially from other bacterial secretion systems, in both its molecular structure and the mechanism for secretion.

Professor Waksman said: "This work is a veritable tour de force. The entire complex is absolutely huge and its structure is unprecedented. It is the type of work which is ground-breaking and will provide an entirely new direction to the field. Next, we need to understand how bacteria use this structure to get a movie of how antibiotics resistance genes are moved around."

Using electron microscopy the team were able to reconstruct the system as observed in the bacteria E. coli. They saw that the mechanism consists of two separate complexes, one in the outer membrane of the cell, and the other in the inner membrane, which are connected by a stalk-like structure that crosses the periplasm -- the space between the two membranes. The complexes at both the inner and outer membranes form pores in the membrane, via which substances can be secreted.

Understanding the structure of the secretion system will help scientists uncover the mechanism by which it moves substances across the inner and outer membranes. It could eventually help scientists develop new tools for the genetic modification of human cells, as the bacteria could act as a carrier for genetic material, which could then be secreted into cells.

Professor Waksman said: "Understanding bacteria's secretion system could help design new compounds able to stop the secretion process, thereby stopping the spread of antibiotics resistance genes. Given that antibiotics resistance has become so widespread and represents a grave threat to human health, the work could have a considerable impact for future research in the field of antimicrobials."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Harry H. Low, Francesca Gubellini, Angel Rivera-Calzada, Nathalie Braun, Sarah Connery, Annick Dujeancourt, Fang Lu, Adam Redzej, Rémi Fronzes, Elena V. Orlova, Gabriel Waksman. Structure of a type IV secretion system. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13081

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Spread of antibiotic resistance understood by unravelling bacterial secretion system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140309150544.htm>.
University College London. (2014, March 9). Spread of antibiotic resistance understood by unravelling bacterial secretion system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140309150544.htm
University College London. "Spread of antibiotic resistance understood by unravelling bacterial secretion system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140309150544.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) 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