Brussels - One in three women will be faced at least once in her life with cystitis, for some the start of a constantly recurring infection. Cystitis is caused by Escherichia coli bacteria which fasten on to the wall of the bladder by means of thread-like structures (pili). Han Remaut of the VIB Department for Structural Biology Brussels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel reveals for the first time the complex interactions which lead to the formation of these pili. This knowledge can be used to develop new antibiotics to treat infections of the urinary tract.
Around 80% of infections of the urinary tract are caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria, gram-negative rod-like bacteria. Although these bacteria form part of normal intestinal flora, virulent types can penetrate the bladder via the urethra and lead to urinary tract infections. These infections occur more often in women than in men and account for a large number of hospital-acquired infections, especially in the case of catheterized patients. Treatment consists of using existing antibiotics. However, the current generation of antibiotics is losing its power to fight these bacteria. Especially problematic are recurrent infections. There is an urgent need for new antibiotics.
Bacteria adhere to the cells of the urinary bladder
Bacteria can adhere to a surface due to their hair-like structures, known as pili or fimbriae. In the case of uropathogenic E. coli, type 1 pili occur which consist of four different sub-entities. The biosynthesis (formation) of these pili takes place through a conserved mechanism (the chaperone/usher biosynthesis route). As type 1 pili are responsible for the uropathogenic E. coli adhering to the host cells, these are promising targets for new antibacterials.
Structural biological techniques to investigate pili formation
Han Remaut, together with colleagues working for the Instit
|Contact: Joris Gansemans|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)