Microbiology

Thorn in TB's Side?

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Science  13 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6078, pp. 132
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6078.132-a
CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) is increasing in prevalence worldwide and is a particular problem for the poor, the malnourished, and the immunocompromised. Despite the global and uncontrolled epidemic of tuberculosis, relatively few pathogenic mechanisms are understood for the causative mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The best-characterized mycobacterial pathogenic systems are the ESX-1 protein secretion system and the waxy cell wall that protects the bacteria within the host. Joshi et al. describe EccA1, an ATPase protein whose gene is located at the periphery of the ESX-1 locus, which is required for ESX-1 protein secretion functions. The EccA1 protein was found to interact with key enzymes required for the synthesis of mycolic acids, the lipids central to the waxy cell envelope. Thus, EccA1 may be responsible for the functional coordination of the ESX-1 protein secretion system with cell wall biosynthesis. Encouragingly, interfering with EccA1 ATPase function caused mycobacterial cells to become more sensitive to antibiotics that target the mycolic acid synthesis pathways.

Chem. Biol. 19, 372 (2012).

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