About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

A Cellular Pump May Pump Antibiotics into Bacteria

by Chrisy Ngilneii on November 8, 2017 at 11:16 AM
Font : A-A+

A cellular pump that moves drugs like antibiotics out of E. coli bacteria has been found to have the potential to bring the antibiotics in as well. A research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Biochemistry have made a groundbreaking finding that opens new lines of research into combating bacteria.

The discovery could rewrite almost 50 years of thinking about how these types of transporters function in the cell.

Advertisement

 A Cellular Pump May Pump Antibiotics into Bacteria
A Cellular Pump May Pump Antibiotics into Bacteria

Cells must bring in and remove different materials to survive. To accomplish this, they utilize different transporter proteins in their cell membranes, most of which are powered by what is called the proton motive force. The proton motive force is directed toward the inside of the cell in bacteria, which means that protons naturally want to move in to the cell from the outside and do so if there is a pathway for them. These transporters allow the measured movement of protons into the cell -- and in exchange for protons moving in, drug molecules get expelled.

It was long thought that this coupled exchange of protons (in) and drugs (out) by the transporter was very strict. However, UW-Madison biochemistry professor Katherine Henzler-Wildman and collaborators at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that for E. coli's small multidrug resistance transporter, called EmrE, proton and drug movements are not as strictly coupled. This transporter can actually also move drugs and protons across the membrane in the same direction, as well as the opposite direction -- introducing the option of moving molecules both into or out of the cell.
Advertisement

This minor detail has big implications, the researchers say. The model's scientists have used for almost 50 years to visualize how these transporters work does not account for the new data. It also means that it might be possible for drugs to be pumped into the cell.

"The long-term implications are that this multi-drug transporter is reversible," Henzler-Wildman says. "So instead of pumping drugs out to confer resistance, you have the possibility that you could use it to pump drugs in to kill bacteria. Drug entry is a big problem, so this is a new area to explore."

She adds that this study and her previous work suggest that by manipulating the environmental conditions or the drug itself, the researchers may be able to control not only the rate of the transport but also its direction -- at least in test tubes in the lab. Trying to confirm this in bacteria is one of the next steps in their research, she says.

"We started with a very basic science question of 'how do these transporters work?' and have stumbled upon this really translational direction," she says. "People have been trying to target these kinds of pumps to stop antibiotic resistance to make antibiotics that we already have effective again. This suggests that you might be able to not just stop it but actually use these pumps to drive drugs into the cell as a new drug entry mechanism."

This particular transporter is found in many bacteria. Surprisingly, scientists don't yet know its real function in the cell. While it does pump out antibiotics, it is not the main transporter that aids E. coli in antibiotic resistance, and it's possible it has other purposes still undiscovered. They have only found that is transports a large number of molecules from dyes to antibiotics.

"Bacteria are constantly at war with each other, so maybe it does play a role in drug resistance," Henzler-Wildman says. "But it could also transport something else we haven't tested, or maybe it works in pH resistance. We haven't narrowed it down yet."

Traditionally, the model used to describe this transporter was the "pure-exchange model," which required the strict, regimented movement of protons and the drug in opposite directions. However, the reality of this process follows the mantra of "life is messy."

Henzler-Wildman is proposing a new model called the "free-exchange model," where the combinations and direction of transport are much more flexible with many more options than previously thought. They used magnetic resonance data to visualize these specific and previously unknown movements of the transporter. Then they studied how exactly the transporter responds in the test tube when, for example, it's exposed to antibiotics, in order to confirm it works the way the structures showed.

"Having to rework the model and essentially rewrite the textbook on what we knew about the transporters will really change the way we think," she says. "I'm actually going to teach this paper in our intro graduate course because it's such a good story of how having a model in your head can limit your thinking and experiments and you really miss important things."

The complete study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
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
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 - Fighting for Rights in the Post-COVID Era
Effect of Blood Group Type on COVID-19 Risk and Severity
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Shigellosis Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) MRSA - The Super Bug Food Safety for Health Antibiotics Eye Infections Natural Antibiotics to Fight Bacterial Infections Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) Boils - Treatment by Drugs Multiple Drug Allergy Syndrome 

Recommended Reading
Drug Resistance - Antibiotic Resistance
Drug resistance is often a problem in malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and ...
Antibiotics
Antibiotics are among the most used and abused medications. This article explains some general ......
Interaction of Antibiotics with Dairy Products
Antibiotics like tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones used in the treatment of bacterial infections .....
Penicillin Allergy
Penicillin allergy is an acute allergic reaction to penicillin containing medicines producing itchy ...
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Find out more about the degenerative disease- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis....
Boils - Treatment by Drugs
Diabetes patients have reduced immunity, which makes them more susceptible to skin infections like b...
Eye Infections
Eye infection is a common problem that often causes pain and discomfort to the eyes. Common symptoms...
MRSA - The Super Bug
MRSA infection is the most dreaded hospital or community acquired infection that can become ......
Multiple Drug Allergy Syndrome
Multiple drug allergy syndrome or multiple drug hypersensitivity syndrome is a condition that causes...
Natural Antibiotics to Fight Bacterial Infections
Fighting infections the natural way and preventing them is always more effective than consuming medi...
Shigellosis
Shigellosis or Bacillary Dysentery is a common cause of gastro-enteritis worldwide and can cause blo...
Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)
Enterococci are a group of gram-negative bacteria that mostly inhabit the human gut. At present ther...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use