New Agent That Makes People Vulnerable to Bacterial Infections Discovered

by Colleen Fleiss on  October 7, 2018 at 1:27 AM Research News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

USP18, an immune system double agent helps curtail immune responses and also opens the door to bacterial infections, such as harmful listeria and staph infections, stated Scripps Research scientists.
New Agent That Makes People Vulnerable to Bacterial Infections Discovered
New Agent That Makes People Vulnerable to Bacterial Infections Discovered

"I call the molecule a 'wolf in sheep's clothing,' " says Namir Shaabani, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Research and co-first author of the recent Science Immunology study. This work, conducted in mouse models, offers a potential antimicrobial approach that could target both bacteria and viruses.

It all comes down to type 1 interferons, a type of immune molecule produced at the start of a viral infection. Interferons fight off the virus, and then their levels should drop when the threat is gone.

Study senior author John Teijaro, PhD, assistant professor at Scripps Research, says scientists have long wanted to understand a paradox in immunology--the question of how interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) that usually help against viruses also dampen the host's ability to resist many bacterial infections.

For the new study, the team found that deleting a single ISG known as Usp18 in mouse dendritic cells, a type of immune cell, enhanced the body's ability to control infections with two strains of Gram-positive bacteria. They also found that normal induction of USP18 after infection impaired antibacterial responses mediated by a protein called tumor necrosis factor and accompanying reactive oxygen species generation, which help destroy bacteria in cells. "Our results were unexpected because the absence of USP18 augments type 1 interferon signaling, which, if the current thinking is correct, should promote rather than prevent bacterial infection," says Teijaro.

Teijaro emphasizes that the study is basic biology--it illuminates the fundamental workings of the immune system--but it's worth investigating whether USP18 can be targeted with drug therapies to treat bacterial infections. Knowing how to inhibit USP18 function could also give doctors the tools to boost interferon activity to better fight viral infections as well.

"One of our goals going forward is to test this therapeutically," says Teijaro. "We also want to expand our investigation to understand the role of USP18 in secondary bacterial pneumonia and tuberculosis infections."

There's one more potential advantage to developing therapies targeting USP18, Shaabani says. "Therapies targeting USP18 would also have the advantage of targeting the host, and not the bacteria directly, and therefore should be less susceptible to antibiotic resistance."

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.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

More News on:

Natural Antibiotics to Fight Bacterial Infections Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE) Smelly Feet / Bromodosis Opportunistic Infections Neutropenic Sepsis 

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.

Find a Doctor

Stay Connected

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

News Category

News Archive