Bacteria that are resistant to drugs are building their protective shields

Bacteria that are resistant to drugs are building their protective shields ...

Gram-negative bacteria that cause drug-resistant pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections in hospitalized patients are now building a crucial part of their outer membrane that shields these pathogens from immune systems and antibiotics. The new findings will enable the development of innovative therapies to combat these potentially deadly bacteria, which has resulted in countless infections in health care settings across the globe.

The study (link is external and opens in a new window) was published online on April 6 in Nature.

According to Filippo Mancia, a co-leader of the study and professor of physiology and cell biophysics at Columbia University.

Mancia and colleagues were able to determine the structures of the enzyme that binds the lipids and sugars together in two functional applications. After combining genetic, biochemical, and molecular dynamics analyses, the team learned how the enzyme positioned the lipids and sugars so they can combine to form the protective membrane.

The outer membrane''s lipopolysaccharide is crucial to the survival of Gram-negative bacteria. If you could block its assembly, then you would increase bacteria''s resistance to antibiotics and the immune system, according to Mancia.

Construction of this membrane is an ongoing process, starting when Gram-negative bacteria are first formed, and continuing as the membrane naturally falls and requires repair. This means that we would have many opportunities to disrupt the membrane, not just at one stage of the bacteria''s life cycle, according to Mancia.

Researchers may begin to custom-design drugs that enhance the biosynthesis of this protective membrane after discovering the structure of the enzyme that performs the last and critical step in assembling lipopolysaccharide barriers.

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