Nightmare Bacteria’s New Strategy to Outsmart the Antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats faced in the field of healthcare nowadays. There is a new survival strategy reported in the recent study done by the scientist using which bacteria survive and recover from exposure to antibiotics.

One of the most used antibiotics across the world are beta-lactam antibiotics which also includes penicillin. This class of antibiotics has been used since 1940’s but scientist still cannot understand the interaction between this class of drugs and bacteria.

A new research led by the University of Notre Dame shed light on an enzyme which helps bacteria to survive in the presence of antibiotics which is not strong enough to kill bacteria immediately on contact.

This study is focused on an enzyme which is present in pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa (gram -ve bacteria ) that causes pneumonia and sepsis. The function of this enzyme named lytic transglycosylase (slt) is to repair the damaged cell wall of bacteria attacked by antibiotic and to allow an infection to spread unceasingly.

“It’s a survival strategy,” said Shahriar Mobashery, Navari Family Professor in Life Sciences at Notre Dame and lead author of the study. “The cell wall is the structural entity that encases the entire bacterium, and its health is critical for the survival of the bacteria. If you have a drug that inflicts damage to the cell wall, the bacterium cannot cope with it and it dies.”

According to the report from the center, this pathogen is like a nightmare bacteria showing resistance more than 200 times in 2017. “It’s sort of like if you’re driving home and get into a fender bender, and by the time you get home, your car is already repaired,” said Mobashery.

The cell wall of this pathogen is a crosslinked structure consisting of long adjacent units but beta-lactam antibiotics do not let the cell wall of the pathogen to form a cross-linked structure. But here bacteria outsmart the antibiotics by initiating cell signaling by uncrossed polymer chains which activate the slt enzyme which in turn recognizes the damage done by the antibiotics and cuts down the uncrossed link polymers. After this, organism again builds the cell wall.

The next step of the team is to determine the structure of the culprit enzyme. Researchers synthesized the cell wall to study slt enzyme degradation process and sent the purified samples of slt enzyme and cell wall to determine the structure.



The BioScientist

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