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In the ring: Researchers fighting bacterial infections zero in on microorganism's soft spots
Date:7/13/2010

BETHESDA, Md., July 13, 2010 In any battle, sizing up one's opponent is a critical first step. For researchers fighting a bacterial infection, that means assessing every nook and cranny of the malicious microorganism and identifying which ones to attack.

At the Center for Biological Research of the Spanish Research Council in Madrid, scientists are devising maneuvers they hope will take out bacteria at their molecular knees, and they are optimistic a recent advance will help yield therapies for a number of infections, including antibiotic-resistant strains delivering blow after blow in hospitals across the globe.

In a Journal of Biological Chemistry "Paper of the Week," Dr. Antonio J. Martn-Galiano and professor Jos M. Andreu are reporting that they have mapped out a promising target for a strategic hit after carefully analyzing a protein that bacteria need in order to reproduce and further infect hosts.

"Bacterial infections are a threat around the globe. This includes not only people in underdeveloped countries, but also patients compromised by the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant pathogens in First World communities and hospitals," Martn-Galiano said. "There is an urgent need to find new bacterial targets and new antibiotics with which to fight infections. Our work, by providing basic insight into the inner functional mechanisms of one new target, cell-division protein FtsZ, may be a little bit of help."

A bacterial cell reproduces through a process called binary fission. First, the parent cell's DNA duplicates so that the future daughter cell will have all the correct genetic information. Then, special building-block proteins, known as FtsZ, move inside the parent cell toward the center and get to work building scaffolding for the construction of a new dividing ring. FtsZ is believed to generate constriction force, while the cell wall keeps growing toward the center of the cell. Finally, the ring tightens
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Contact: Angela Hopp
ahopp@asbmb.org
301-634-7389
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Source:Eurekalert  

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