Meningitis Bacteria Change Key Protein Shape to Escape Detection

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  May 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM Research News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment
Font : A-A+

Bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere in the US every once in a while. Part of the disease's danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body's immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain sight. Their findings, which could help defeat these bacteria and others like it, appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
 Meningitis Bacteria Change Key Protein Shape to Escape Detection
Meningitis Bacteria Change Key Protein Shape to Escape Detection

Linda Columbus and colleagues explain that the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, one cause of meningitis, and its cousin Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which is responsible for gonorrhea, have key-like proteins that allow them to enter human cells and do their damage. Gonorrhea can be cured, though one type of the responsible bacteria has reached "superbug" status, becoming resistant to known drugs. If meningitis is not treated immediately with antibiotics, it can cause severe disability and death.

In a search for new ways to treat these diseases, scientists are looking more closely at how the bacteria sneak around in the body undetected. When someone gets an infection, specific proteins — called antigens — that stud the pathogen's outer layer usually raise an alarm, and the body's immune system goes on the attack. But these two kinds of Neisseria bacteria can elude the body's look-out cells, and Columbus' team wanted to know how.

They combined two approaches to figure out the architecture of one of the bacteria's outer proteins that help it gain entry into human cells. They found that the protein's outer loops that jostle against each other, causing their structure to constantly change. This shape-shifting makes for a kind of camouflage that hides them from the body's sentinels, at the same time preserving its ability to bind to and enter a person's cells. This deeper understanding could help lead to new treatments for bacterial diseases, the scientists state.



Source: Eurekalert

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions

More News on:

Japanese Encephalitis Hib Vaccine Meningitis Shigellosis MRSA - The Super Bug Magical Millets for Your Health The Basics of Baby Food Food Safety for Health Diet and Nutrition Tips for Athletes Nutrition IQ 

News A - Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

Facebook

News Category

News Archive