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Researchers describe long-perplexing 'magic spot' on bacteria

rs in learning how a protein that is specific to illness-causing bacteria might provide another potential path to developing antibiotics against bacteria that cause cholera, pneumonia and food poisoning.

This protein, called RfaH, regulates virulence a bacterium's ability to cause disease in pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, bacteria that cause food poisoning in humans.

Artsimovitch and her colleagues identified previously overlooked RfaH genes in other bacterial pathogens, such as those that cause cholera and bubonic plague.

"Not only do RfaH proteins from different bacteria look similar, they act similar, too," she said.

Without RfaH, enterobacteria can't cause disease, Artsimovitch said. It's plausible that drug developers could design an antibiotic that knocks out RfaH, effectively shutting down a bacterium's virulence.

"We're trying to give the scientists who work on these pathogens detailed models of RfaH and ppGpp behavior," Artsimovitch said. "That may lead to better-targeted antibiotics that can really be effective against these diseases."


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Contact: Irina Artsimovitch
Artsimovitch.1@osu.edu
614-292-6777
Ohio State University
29-Apr-2004


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