RcsF: a new target in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

The resistance of certain bacteria to antibiotics is currently a major health problem. In a publication in the prestigious scientific journal Cell, researchers lead by Jean-François Collet, Investigator WELBIO at UCL, describe how RcsF is involved in bacterial defence mechanisms against antibiotics.

There are two main families of bacteria : those surrounded by a single membrane (Gram positive) and those surrounded by two membranes (Gram negative). For a bacterium to survive, it has to keep its two membranes intact. If one of these walls is damaged, the bacterium dies.

The researchers studied RcsF, a protein found between these two protective membranes. They made two unexpected discoveries: 1) the RcsF protein may localize at the most outer wall of the bacterium and 2)  when the bacterium is attacked (by an antibiotic, for instance), RcsF localizes between the two membranes where it interacts with another protein, IgaA, to raise the alarm.  This signal prompts the bacterium to trigger defence systems (by sending other back-up proteins) so as to resist the attacking antibiotic.

The resistance of certain bacteria to antibiotics is currently a major health problem. More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to the antibiotics available at the moment, because they are acquiring new defence mechanisms. Given that the new RcsF-triggered alarm system helps defend bacteria against antibiotics, the researchers aim to gain a better understanding of how these proteins work so as to be able to develop new antibiotics, which would bypass this alarm system and hence, ultimately, fight more effectively against bacterial infections (such as urinary infections linked to the bacterium Escherichia-coli, for example). To be specific, the researchers believe that it will be possible to use the proteins in this system as a target to break through the bacteria’s defence system and create new antibiotics.

Seung-Hyun Cho et al, Detecting Envelope Stress by Monitoring β-Barrel Assembly  Cell (2014) 159 :1652-1664.

Press highlights

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  • RTBF - Découverte UCL dans la lutte contre les bactéries résistantes aux antibiotiques
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  • L’Avenir - La défense des bactéries percée à l’UCL
  • Le Vif - La résistance des bactéries décryptée par des chercheurs belges
  • UCL - Recherche sur les bactéries résistantes aux antibiotiques
  • Youtube - Interview du Dr. JF Collet
  • RTL vidéo - Des chercheurs de l'UCL expliquent la résistance aux antibiotiques !
  • TéléBruxelles -  L’UCL s’illustre dans la lutte contre les bactéries résistantes aux antibiotiques
  • RTBF - JT 13.00 du 19/12/14
  • Daily science - Un mécanisme de résistance aux antibiotiques mis au jour à l’UCL

Last update : 8/11/2016 - Vie privée - Printable version -  © 2020 WELBIO

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