A team at Griffith's Institute for Glycomics identified a unique
sensory structure that is able to bind host-specific sugar and is
present on particularly virulent strains of Campylobacter jejuni
‘A unique sensory structure that is able to bind host-specific sugar and is present on particularly virulent strains of Campylobacter jejuni has been identified by researchers.’
In their paper A direct-sensing galactose chemoreceptor recently evolved in invasive strains of Campylobacter jejuni
published in Nature Communications
, the team explain that the ability to cause disease depends
on the ability of bacterial cells to move towards their target host
This movement is determined by specialized structures on the
bacterial cells called sensory receptors that sense chemicals in their
It is the first known finding of a bacterial sensor that can bind sugar directly.
The researchers used chicken models to look at the mutant displays
with disabled CcrG sensor and determined that disabling just this one
sensor reduces the ability of campylobacteria to colonize chickens.
"This is a very important finding as sensory structures are very
specific to each bacteria and offer high target specificity for design
of new antimicrobial compounds," says research leader Professor Victoria
"Essentially it should be possible to design an antimicrobial drug to
target a specific pathogen that will not affect normal flora".
"Targeting sensory apparatus of microbes also reduces risk of
development of antimicrobial resistance, since the bacterial cell will
not be killed, but rather, have its ability to reach host cells and
cause disease, disabled."
"In addition, getting an understanding of how bacterial sensors bind
to chemicals has enormous potential for the future. With understanding
will come the ability to engineer bacteria with a set of sensors that
will selectively direct cancer-killing bacteria toward cancer cells or
direct bacteria that degrade chemicals in environmental contamination,
such as oil spills to the contaminated areas."
Institute director Professor Mark von Itzstein said Professor
Korolik's progress added to the outstanding efforts being made across
the whole institute.
"Our researchers are leading innovation in medicine with promising
new drugs and vaccines and solutions to improve patient outcomes and
reduce unnecessary healthcare complications," he said.