New bacterial mutations that cause antibiotic resistance

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New bacterial mutations that cause antibiotic resistance

Postby whbio » Feb 23 2017 4:41 pm

Antibiotics are among the most potent life-saving drugs. However, antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasing problem. It is a significant cause of treatment failure for infections. Some strains of bacteria are resistant to almost all existing medicines, making them a great threat to global health. More than 23,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year. The problem of antibiotic resistance is multifactorial and cannot be addressed by one intervention. Efforts have been undertaken to curb antibiotic resistance growth.

Now in a paper in eLife, a team of researchers report that they have identified new bacterial mutations that help resist antibiotic treatment. The study was carried out by scientists from The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Texas A&M University.

Senior researcher Deborah Hung and colleagues sought to uncover the molecular processes that promote antibiotic resistance. They looked at Mycobacterium smegmatis, a species of the genus Mycobacteria. Mycobacterium smegmatis is widely used to study other Mycobacteria species such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the pathogenic cause of the prevalent disease tuberculosis. In Mycobacterium smegmatis, antibiotic resistance arises nearly exclusively through mutation.

The investigators cultured Mycobacterium smegmatis in the laboratory and exposed the bacteria to low concentrations of different antibiotics. Finally, some of the bacteria cultures developed antibiotic-resistant members. The investigators then performed whole genome sequencing of the resistant bacteria, they identified mutations in genes associated with the ribosome, a cellular machine that helps make proteins inside cells. These ribosomal mutations unexpectedly conferred resistance to multiple unrelated classes of antibiotics. In addition, the mutant bacteria were better able to tolerate membrane stress and high temperature than wild-type bacteria. In summary, the results suggest that ribosomal mutations have great impacts on bacterial survival under duress.

“Thus, ribosomal mutations can serve as stepping-stones in an evolutionary path leading to the emergence of high-level, multidrug resistance,” said the researchers. Cusabio provides proteins and antibodies.
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