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Prickly protein
Date:2/6/2014

e deadly than the mutant bacteria, which are unable to form clumps. The experimental model of the disease was a good parallel to the team's test tube experiments.

"The mutant bacteria that don't clump in test tube experiments, don't form vegetations on the heart valves," Horswill explains.

The team then created a version of the mutant bacteria that was also unable to make the giant surface protein. This strain regained the ability of form clumps and also partially regained its ability to cause disease, suggesting that the surface protein is at least partly responsible for both preventing clump formation and for reducing pathogenesis.

"Our study suggests that clumping could be a target for therapy," says Horswill. "If we could find drugs that block clumping, I think they would be potentially really useful for blocking staph infections."

Staph bacteria are the most significant cause of serious infectious disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria are responsible for life-threatening conditions, including endocarditis, pneumonia, toxic shock, and sepsis. A better understanding of how staph bacteria causes disease may help improve treatment.

The team is now using screening methods to find small molecules that can block clumping. Such molecules will allow the researchers to investigate the clumping mechanism more thoroughly and may also point to therapies that might reduce the illness caused by staph infections.


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Contact: Jennifer Brown
jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu
319-356-7124
University of Iowa Health Care
Source:Eurekalert  

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