Monday, 29 December 2014

Understanding bacterial toxins target human cells will help develop new drugs

New drugs  and treatment strategies will be developed from research that provides a new understanding of how bacterial toxins target human cells.

Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) are toxins produced by major bacterial pathogens, most notably Streptococcus pneumoniae and group A streptococci, which collectively kill millions of people each year.
The toxins were thought to work by interacting with cholesterol in target cell membranes, forming pores that bring about cell death.

Bacteria invest energy into creating these toxins because they act as virulence factors. By targeting immune cells such as macrophages the bacteria will be protected against phagocytosis and destruction by respiratory burst. The presence of cholesterol in the membrane of the target cell is required for CDC pore formation. The arrangement of cholesterol molecules in the bilayer is important for successful binding

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research is an international collaboration between Professor James Paton from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and Professor Michael Jennings from Griffith University, and collaborators at the University of Queensland and Department of Microbiology, New York University School of Medicine.

To access, go to PNAS

Posted by Tim Sandle