Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Scientists develop new technologies for understanding bacterial infections: New approach for studying molecules within their natural environment

Abstract:
Understanding how bacteria infect cells is crucial to preventing countless human diseases. In a recent breakthrough, scientists from the University of Bristol have discovered a new approach for studying molecules within their natural environment, opening the door to understanding the complexity of how bacteria infect people.

Scientists develop new technologies for understanding bacterial infections: New approach for studying molecules within their natural environment

Bristol, England | Posted on August 29th, 2011

The research, led by a team of biochemists, microbiologists and physicists and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), provides an unprecedented level of detail of the consequences of a bacterium approaching another cell, directly in situ.

Until now, traditional approaches to understanding infection have focused on either studies of the cells involved or dissection of individual molecules present within the cells. Leo Brady, Professor of Biochemistry and Mumtaz Virji, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, who led the research, have developed a novel method for bridging these, until now, separate approaches.

The team studied the common bacterium Moraxella catarrhalis, which causes middle ear infections in young children, and is a major cause of morbidity in those with heart disease. For many years, scientists approached this problem from the molecular medicine approach — through isolating and studying proteins from the Moraxella cell surface that initiate infection.

From these detailed studies the team have been able to develop an overview of one of the key proteins, called UspA1. However, as with the vast majority of molecular medicine approaches, this model has been based on studies of the UspA1 protein in isolation, rather than in its natural setting on the bacterium surface. A common worry for many biomedical scientists is how such understanding translates into the reality of these tiny molecules when they are part of a much larger cell. Understanding the increased complexity of individual molecules within the cellular mêlée is crucial to understanding why many promising drugs fail to live up to expectations.

To begin bridging this gap in our understanding, Professors Brady and Virji teamed up with Dr Massimo Antognozzi from the University's School of Physics, whose group have been developing a novel form of atomic force microscope, termed the lateral molecular force microscope (LMFM).

Together, they have evolved the design of the LMFM microscope to optimise its ability to measure biological phenomena such as changes in UspA1 directly at the Moraxella cell surface. The LMFM differs from more conventional atomic force microscopes in tapping samples (in this case, individual cells) against an extremely fine lever, equivalent to the stylus of a record player, rather than moving the lever as is usually the case. Fabrication of extremely thin but stiff cantilevers together with exceptionally fine motor movements and a specialised visualisation system have all been combined in the device to tremendous effect. The sensitivity achieved has been further enhanced by its location within the extremely low vibration environment provided within the University's innovative Nanoscience and Quantum Information building. The result has been a machine that can measure exquisitely fine molecular changes and forces in individual molecules directly on a living cell surface.

In the Moraxella study, this development has enabled the research team to correlate intricate, atomic level detail of UspA1 obtained by X-ray crystallography of isolated fragments of the protein with delicate and previously unobservable physical changes of the bacterial cell as it binds to and infects its target human cells.

Professor Brady said: "The findings have triggered the development of a novel technology that promises to open up a new approach for studying molecular medicine. This breakthrough will undoubtedly prove equally useful for the study of many other biological processes directly within their cellular environment, something that has long been needed in molecular medicine."

This combined study has enabled the researchers to observe the very first responses as a bacterium binds to a human cell, hence opening the door to understanding the complexity of infection processes.

The UspA1 LMFM studies have been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and are published today [29 Aug] in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Caroline Clancy

44-077-761-70238

Copyright © University of Bristol

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Soitec Enter Into Long-term Supply Agreement on FD-SOI Wafers: Strategic milestone to help guarantee a secure, high-volume supply of FD-SOI technology September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of mmWave and RF/Analog on Leading FDX™ FD-SOI Technology Platform: Technology solution delivers ‘connected intelligence’ to next generation high-volume wireless and IoT applications with lower power and significantly reduced cost September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of Embedded MRAM on Leading 22FDX® FD-SOI Platform: Advanced embedded non-volatile memory solution delivers ‘connected intelligence’ by expanding SoC capabilities on the 22nm process node September 20th, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Do titanium dioxide particles from orthopedic implants disrupt bone repair? September 16th, 2017

Arrowhead Hosts Investor & Analyst R&D Day to Introduce TRiM(TM) Platform and Lead RNAi-based Drug Candidates September 14th, 2017

Graphene based terahertz absorbers: Printable graphene inks enable ultrafast lasers in the terahertz range September 13th, 2017

Applications for the nanomedTAB are open until September 18th, 2017 September 13th, 2017

Discoveries

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

A new approach to ultrafast light pulses: Unusual fluorescent materials could be used for rapid light-based communications systems September 19th, 2017

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices September 18th, 2017

Announcements

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Delivers 8SW RF SOI Technology for Next-Generation Mobile and 5G Applications: Advanced 8SW 300mm SOI technology enables cost-effective, high-performance RF front-end modules for 4G LTE mobile and sub-6GHz 5G applications September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Unveils Vision and Roadmap for Next-Generation 5G Applications: Technology platforms are uniquely positioned to enable a new era of ‘connected intelligence’ with the transition to 5G September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Delivers Custom 14nm FinFET Technology for IBM Systems: Jointly developed 14HP process is world’s only technology that leverages both FinFET and SOI September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces New 12nm FinFET Technology for High-Performance Applications September 20th, 2017

Tools

Graphene based terahertz absorbers: Printable graphene inks enable ultrafast lasers in the terahertz range September 13th, 2017

Chemical hot spots: Scanning tunneling microscopy measurements identify active sites on catalyst surfaces September 7th, 2017

Phenom-World selects Deben to supply a tensile stage as an accessory to their range of desktop SEMs August 29th, 2017

New results reveal high tunability of 2-D material: Berkeley Lab-led team also provides most precise band gap measurement yet for hotly studied monolayer moly sulfide August 26th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project