Infection with Entercoccus faecalis can cause bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves that if not treated with antibiotics results in death. The number of infections with antibiotic-resistant E. faecalis is increasing. So, researchers are looking for alternative strategies for treating individuals who become infected with this bacterium. Now, in a study appearing in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from University of Texas Medical School at Houston have identified proteins that are required for E. faecalis to cause endocarditis in rats and that might make good vaccine candidates.
Barbara Murray and colleagues found that E. faecalis expresses four proteins that are required for the bacteria to form protein structures on their surface known as pili. The pili were required for the bacteria to aggregate and form biofilms. More importantly, rats infected with E. faecalis lacking expression of any one of these proteins suffered less severe bacterial endocarditis. This study, identifying E. faecalis proteins required for the bacterium to cause endocarditis in rats, might lead to the development of new strategies to treat individuals who become infected with E. faecalis.
In an accompanying commentary, Jonathan Budzik and Olaf Schneewind from the University of Chicago agree with this suggestion when they comment that, "This information may enable new vaccine strategies for the prevention of E. faecalis infections."
Contact: Karen Honey
Journal of Clinical Investigation