Superbug battle: Bacteria structure may be key to new antibiotics

phys.org | 8/3/2018 | Staff
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Cornell researchers have uncovered the structure of a regulatory mechanism unique to bacteria, opening the door for designing new antibiotics targeted to pathogens.

As the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs grows, this discovery offers hope for finding an alternative way to target disease-causing bacteria.

Study - Researchers - Crystallography - Structure - Elements

In the study, researchers used X-ray crystallography to reveal the structure of so-called "T-box" elements in the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the model bacterium in the study.

T-boxes are structures that recognize when a cell is deficient in a specific amino acid, the building blocks of cells. T-boxes allow bacteria to respond to this deficiency by initiating a process that generates more of that amino acid. In this way, T-boxes facilitate basic functioning in bacteria, including many pathogens such as M. tuberculosis and Bacillus anthracis, which causes the deadly anthrax disease.

T-boxes - Bacteria - Genes - Study - Author

"The T-boxes are only found in bacteria and they control essential genes," said study first author Robert Battaglia. "This makes them an attractive target because they are also essential for a lot of these bacteria to respond to starvation conditions."

Battaglia is a graduate student in the lab of senior author Ailong Ke, professor of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University.

Bind - Macromolecule - TRNA - Forms - Different

T-boxes bind to an essential macromolecule called tRNA, which exists in uncharged and charged forms. Different types of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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