Navigation Links
Natural antibiotics yield secrets to atom-level imaging technique

Frog skin and human lungs hold secrets to developing new antibiotics, and a technique called solid-state NMR spectroscopy is a key to unlocking those secrets.

That's the view of University of Michigan researcher Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, who will discuss his group's progress toward that goal March 3 at the annual meeting of the Biophysical Society in Baltimore, Md.

Ramamoorthy's research group is using solid-state NMR to explore the germ-killing properties of natural antibiotics called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are produced by virtually all animals, from insects to frogs to humans. AMPs are the immune system's early line of defense, battling microbes at the first places they try to penetrate: skin, mucous membranes and other surfaces. They're copiously produced in injured or infected frog skin, for instance, and the linings of the human respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts also crank out the short proteins in response to invading pathogens.

In addition to fighting bacteria, AMPs attack viruses, fungi and even cancer cells, so drugs designed to mimic them could have widespread medical applications, said Ramamoorthy, who is an associate professor of chemistry and an associate research scientist in the Biophysics Research Division.

While researchers have identified hundreds of AMPs in recent years, they're still puzzling over exactly how the peptides wipe out bacteria and other microbes. Unlike conventional antibiotics, which typically inhibit specific bacterial proteins, AMPs get downright physical with invaders, punching holes into their membranes. But they're selectively pugnacious, targeting microbes but leaving healthy host cells alone.

"They're like smart bombs," Ramamoorthy said. "We'd like to exploit their properties to design super-smart bombs, but before we can do that, we need to understand how these AMP smart bombs interact with membranes to destroy bacteria. We need to know how they're shaped befo re, during and after the process of attaching to bacteria and how they attach."

Solid-state NMR spectroscopy is an ideal tool for answering such questions because it provides atom-level details of the molecule's structure in the complex and challenging cell membrane environment, Ramamoorthy said. "Just as an MRI produces a detailed image of our internal organs, solid-state NMR spectroscopy is used to construct a detailed image of a peptide or protein and to reveal how it sits in the cell membrane," providing clues for modifications that might make synthetic AMPs even more effective in overcoming ever-increasing bacterial resistance. For instance, rearranging parts of the molecule might make it fit into the membrane better, resulting in greater effectiveness with smaller amounts of AMP.

"Our overall mission is to use the kind of basic physical data we obtain from solid-state NMR spectroscopy to help interpret biological functions," Ramamoorthy said. The work is highly interdisciplinary, involving not only Ramamoorthy's lab and several other groups in the Chemistry Department, but also researchers from the College of Engineering, the School of Dentistry, the Medical School and the Biophysics Research Division, as well as collaborators in Canada, Japan, India and the U.S. pharmaceutical companies Genaera Corporation and Eli Lilly and Company. Ramamoorthy was awarded support from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, through an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award.

A leader in this area of research, he has organized two major international symposia on the field at the University of Michigan, edited a special issue in the journal BBA-Biomembranes, published a number of papers in leading journals, and brought out a book on NMR Spectroscopy of Biological Solids. Ramamoorthy says that this area of research will grow considerably at U-M from implementing plans to set up a high magnetic field solid-state NM R spectrometer facility and an NIH-funded program.
'"/>

Source:University of Michigan


Related biology news :

1. Genetically Modified Natural Killer Immune Cells Attack, Kill Leukemia Cells
2. Natural Killers Could Lead to New Hepatitis Treatments
3. Natural tumor suppressor in body discovered by UCSD medical researchers
4. Naturally occurring asbestos linked to lung cancer
5. Natural compound from pond scum shows potential activity against Alzheimers
6. Natural selection at single gene demonstrated
7. Natural vitamin E tocotrienol reaches blood at protective levels
8. Natural pine bark extract relieves muscle cramp and pain in athletes and diabetics
9. Natural protein stops deadly human brain cancer in mice
10. Natural anti-viral enzyme helps keep cancer cells alive, researchers find
11. Natural polyester makes new sutures stronger, safer

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:12/5/2016)... WASHINGTON , Dec. 5, 2016  The ... (NIJ), today published "Can CT Scans Enhance or ... examines the potential of supporting or replacing forensic ... a CT scan. In response to ... NIJ is exploring using CT scans as a ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 2016  higi SH llc (higi) announced today ... national brands, industry thought-leaders and celebrity influencers looking ... for taking steps to live healthier, more active ... higi has built the largest self-screening health station ... people who have conducted over 185 million biometric ...
(Date:11/28/2016)... 28, 2016 "The biometric ... 16.79%" The biometric system market is in the ... the near future. The biometric system market is expected ... at a CAGR of 16.79% between 2016 and 2022. ... biometric technology in smartphones, rising use of biometric technology ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... KBioBox llc ... to client demand KbioBox developed a sophisticated “3 click” gene dditing off target ... from KBioBox’s new website, https://www.kbiobox.com/ and powered by the company’s ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... This CAST literature review and report looks ... authors focus on the economic effects in countries that are major global commodity exporters ... and the resultant risk of low level presence (LLP) puts large volumes of trade ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016  HedgePath Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCQX: HPPI), a ... plans to commercialize innovative therapeutics for patients with ... were approved for trading on the OTCQX U.S. ... OTCQX, effective today, under the ticker symbol "HPPI." ... companies must meet high financial standards, follow best ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... PHILADELPHIA , Dec. 8, 2016  Partnering to ... ecosystem, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern ... Group ("IHG"), the parent company of Independence Blue Cross; ... today announced their intentions for a $6 million funding ... early-stage healthcare startups. Responding to a burgeoning ...
Breaking Biology Technology: