Navigation Links
Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores

Scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and three other institutions are setting out to find what activates the spores in anthrax, the deadly bacterial infection that is back in the news.

"A key aspect of anthrax spore biology concerns the germination process through which the dormant spore becomes a reproductive, disease-causing bacterium," explained Al Claiborne, Ph.D., the principal investigator. "The potential importance of such a germination control mechanism in anthrax is clear, as spore germination and outgrowth are fundamental to proliferation."

Claiborne, co-director of Wake Forest's Center for Structural Biology, added, "Basic understanding of the regulatory signals that promote germination will enable discoveries leading to drugs that block the process."

The research is being paid for by a $152,687 grant from the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infections, based at Duke University, one of eight such regional centers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The other institutions in Claiborne's project include a co-investigator at Virginia Tech and collaborators at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md, and the University of California, San Diego.

The research stems from lessons learned from studying the bacteria that cause Staphylococcus infections and two other bacteria in the same group as anthrax.

Claiborne said the group proposes that a vitamin B5 derivative known as Coenzyme A plays a crucial role in the germination of the anthrax spores. They have already shown that anthrax is missing a similar cofactor called glutathione that is common to many other bacteria, as well as humans.

The researchers are working with a non-pathogenic strain of anthrax. The genome sequences of four strains of the bacteria, known scientifically as Bacillus anthracis, have been determined.

The group also will be exploring the three-dimensional structures and the functions of the proteins involved. State-of-the-art facilities at the Center for Structural Biology will be used to determine how genetic information in the anthrax chromosome translates into a vast array of protein structures, Claiborne said. Once they know the structures, they may not only be able to provide new details on how anthrax develops, but also pick out structural vulnerabilities that are key to designing new therapeutic agents to prevent anthrax.

Interest in determining how to stop anthrax remains high, not only after the 2001 attacks through the mail that resulted in 18 cases and five deaths, but also after the recent scare at two military mailroom facilities when anthrax alarms went off.

The group also would like to understand another closely related bacterium, Bacillus cereus, one strain of which can produce anthrax-like symptoms.

The research team includes Conn Mallett, Ph.D., Derek Parsonage, Ph.D., graduate students Carleitta Paige, Jamie Wallen, and Tim Colussi, and senior research assistants Bill Boles, M.S., and Sumana Choudhury, M.S. Paige earlier received a $161,000 graduate fellowship from the Department of Homeland Security to support her research.


Source:Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Scientists Replicate Hepatitis C Virus in Laboratory
3. Scientists detect probable genetic cause of some Parkinsons disease cases
4. Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway
5. Yale Scientists Find MicroRNA Regulates Ras Cancer Gene
6. Scientists collaborate to assess health of global environment
7. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
8. Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair
9. Scientists rid stem cell culture of key animal cells
10. Scientists develop new color-coded test for protein folding
11. Scientists identify genetic pathways essential to RNA interference
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/16/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Nov 16, 2015 ... leading developer of human interface solutions, today announced ... new Synaptics TouchView ™ touch controller and ... the architectural revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI ... and include TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... 2015  In this report, the biomarkers ... product, type, application, disease indication, and geography. ... are consumables, services, software. The type segments ... efficacy biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The applications ... development, drug discovery and development, personalized medicine, ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... MAGDEBURG, Germany , November 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... in Vienna, Austria to be held ... NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in Vienna, Austria ... a wholly owned subsidiary of Vycor Medical, Inc. ("Vycor") (OTCQB: ... Internet-delivered NovaVision Therapy Suite at the 3rd European Congress ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... MarkLogic, the Enterprise NoSQL database platform provider, creating a seamless approach to ... Content Intelligence capabilities provide a robust set of semantic tools which create ...
(Date:11/28/2015)... ... November 28, 2015 , ... • Jeon Jin Bio Corp, a ... rodent control solutions , Bird Free, an ... across all sensory modalities including visual, smell, taste and touch, enabling safe, effective avian ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... Program that includes over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, ... and applied spectroscopy, covers a wide range of applications such as, but not ...
Breaking Biology Technology: