Discovery to help newer ways of killing lethal E.coli bacteria

December 9th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 9 (IANS) Researchers have clued onto how and why a particular virus, N4, injects an unusual substance - an RNA polymerase protein - into an E. coli bacterial cell. The results also may help other researchers to come up with new ideas about ways to kill E. coli bacteria, which can be lethal to humans.

They contribute to improved understanding of the infection strategies used by viruses that attack bacterial cells. Such viruses are known as bacteriophages or phages.

“Most phages inject only their own DNA into bacterial cells,” said Katsu Murakami, assistant professor at the Penn State University department of biochemistry and molecular biology, who led the study.

“These phages then use the host bacterial cell’s RNA polymerase to synthesise messenger RNA through a process called transcription, which ultimately results in the creation of new phage proteins, said a Penn State University release written by Sara LaJeunesse.

“The N4 virus injects its own RNA polymerase, which is a type of protein, into the E. coli cell. This system could be replicated and used to deliver proteins or drugs that kill the bacterium,” said Murakami.

Murakami hoped that the novel infection strategy of the N4 phage will be useful in the development of new therapeutic methods for killing E. coli.

The results were published in the current issue of Molecular Cell and funded by National Institutes of Health.

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