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Bacterial toxin closes gate on immune response, Penn researchers discover
Date:2/13/2008

ly. And a few years later, Professor Carol Deutsch, among others, demonstrated the presence of potassium channels controlled by voltage in immune cells.

SMase C is made by, among other bacteria, S. aureus, a pathogenic bacterium that causes a range of infections from minor skin lesions to toxic shock. This finding raises the intriguing possibility that the SMase C action against Kv1.3 helps S. aureus to neutralize host defenses, state the authors in the paper.

The findings of this study suggest the possibility that identifying inhibitors of SMase C may be a way to combat S. aureus infections. One strain of S. aureus is the much-talked-about, MRSA, or methycillin-resistant S. aureus. Specific inhibitors of SMase C may expand the choice of therapies for treating MRSA and other resistant S. aureus infections.

This study was conducted in a common experimental system where frog eggs were engineered to have particular voltage-gated ion channels in their membranes. SMases used in the study were purified from bacteria engineered to produce the enzymes.

This new study follows a 2006 study by the same research team showing that an SMase from the brown recluse spider could activate voltage-gated ion channels. In 2007 the team discovered that SMases from lung-infecting bacteria inactivate ion channels that conduct chloride ions, which would in turn aggravate lung infection in some cystic fibrosis patients.


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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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