Researchers in Germany looking to find unprecedented ways of combating bacterial infection have demonstrated that certain small molecules can reduce the ability of Staphylococcus aureus to cause disease. ‘The classic antibiotic approach puts bacteria in a life or death situation, meaning that they need to become resistant in order to survive. We aimed to find a way of reducing the ability of bacteria to make the toxins that harm eukaryote cells during infection, without putting them under selective pressure,’ explains Stephan Sieber of the University of Technology in Munich who led the study.
Transcriptional regulators control the virulence factors in bacteria, that enable a microorganism to establish itself within a host or enhance its potential to cause disease, by directly binding to DNA promoter regions of toxin-encoding genes. In the study, the researchers identified a series of α-methylene-γ-butyrolactones that covalently modify cysteine residues on three transcriptional regulators in S. aureus, markedly decreasing the expression of α-haemolysin, one of the most prominent virulence factors.
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Read the original journal article in Chemical Science:
α-Methylene-γ-butyrolactones attenuate Staphylococcus aureus virulence by inhibition of transcriptional regulation
Martin H Kunzmann, Nina C. Bach, Bianca Bauer and Stephan Axel Sieber
Chem. Sci., 2013, Accepted Manuscript, DOI: 10.1039/C3SC52228H