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Treatment of Bacterial Infection Paves the Way to Treat CF Infection

According to the researchers at the Harvard Medical School it is said that a resistant bacteria was found in the lungs of chronically infected cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. // Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is the bacteria which secretes proteins that cause disease in the CF patients says Joseph Mougous, lead author of the study published in the June 9 issue of Science. ‘In the case of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the host may be a cancer patient with a weakened immune system, a burn patient, or a person with cystic fibrosis (CF).’

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), a pathogen that infects more than 80 percent of cystic fibrosis patients, is a leading cause of these patients' death. PA is difficult to treat because it is resistant to many drugs. ‘Since we know so little about what this bacterium is up to while it's engaged in these chronic infections, the discovery of this protein secretion system might lead to finding a new target for treatments,’ said Mougous, a research fellow in the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) provided one of the clues that contributed to the HMS discovery.

Working through a number of pathogenic proteins, ANL protein crystallographer Marianne Cuff saw a bagel-shaped pore that might be involved in transferring toxins into cells. She deposited the structure of the protein, called Hcp1, into the Protein Data Bank, a resource used by biologists worldwide to find information about the proteins they are studying. While exploring the Protein Data Bank, Mougous, who was studying PA in the laboratory of department chair John Mekalanos, recognized that the amino acid sequence of Hcp1 in PA closely resembled that of Hcp1 in Vibrio cholerae. The Mekalanos lab had previously discovered that the Hcp1 protein of V. cholerae is released from the bacterium via a novel secretion pathway. Because Hcp1 proteins from both pathogens belong to the same protein
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