Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Weakened Walls

Bacterial cell wall enzyme is a possible drug target for treating infection

06 May 2020

Weakened Walls

Breaching the armour of an attacking enemy is one way to take it down. For Neisseria meningitidis, the bacteria that causes the nervous system infection meningitis, this armour is the cell wall. Researchers investigate a key enzyme, LtgA, involved in building the cell wall to determine whether it could be a good target for weakening the bug. Bacteria were genetically altered to lack LtgA, have reduced levels or have a mutant version missing a region needed for proper function. Scanning electron microscopy revealed bacteria lacking LtgA (pictured, top right) or with reduced levels (bottom left) appeared largely the same as normal (top left). This is likely because other enzymes related to LtgA compensated for its absence or reduced levels. However, N.meningitidis with the mutant enzyme had deformed cell walls and struggled to grow and divide (bottom right). LtgA therefore holds promise as a novel drug target to treat meningitis.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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