Bacteria can sense amino acids
HEALTH A-Z

Bacteria can sense amino acids

This protein is found in a large and important group of bacteria that contains the causative agent of tuberculosis in humans, as well as important bacteria for the production of food and antibiotics.

 

A new study concluded that bacteria can recognize amino acids and regulate their metabolism in response to available nutrients. Researchers at the University of Leicester have stated that gathering knowledge about these bacteria could contribute to the development of drugs and antibiotics to combat various diseases, including tuberculosis.

 

They identified a specific protein function (G kinase) that allows bacterial groups, such as the amino acid Mycobacterium tuberculosis found in the environment, to invading bacteria.

 

This protein is found in a large and important group of bacteria that contain the causative agent of human tuberculosis and bacteria that are important for the production of food and antibiotics. The research identified the types of nutrients that can be detected (aspartate and glutamate), as well as the detection protein that recognizes nutrients.

 

Understanding how bacteria recognize and respond to amino acids in their local environment provides scientists with useful information about how bacteria work and how drugs can attack specific proteins.

 

Serine-threonine protein kinases are found in all organisms, from humans to bacteria, but are less well known in bacteria. The results represent one of the first cases of bacteria in which it was possible to identify the stimuli that trigger signal transduction, “said Helen O’Hare, Principal Investigator.

 

A bacterial pathogen can “taste” the same amino acids as humans. The sensor has a similar human glutamate receptor structure, but the way information is transmitted to the bacterial cell is different and involves a different set of proteins, as opposed to signaling systems that have been previously studied, “he added.

 

The team was able to determine which proteins help bacteria recognize nutrients by removing specific genes to signal bacterial genome proteins. With the genes removed, they found that it altered the ability of bacteria to detect nutrients, confirming the function of genes.

 

Our results are broader in importance for other pathogens, such as mycobacteria and actinobacteria, which produce thousands of dollars in amino acids and antibiotics every year, “said O’Hare.

 

The Department of Biotechnology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Government of India, the Commission for Commonwealth Grants and the Medical Research Council has provided financial support for the research. The study appears in the mBio protocol.

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