MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David G. Thanassi, Ph.D.
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Center for Infectious Diseases
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5222
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli use hair-like surface appendages termed pili to colonize tissues within the host and initiate infection. Together with our collaborators – the group of Huilin Li at the Van Andel Research Institute – we used an advanced imaging technique termed cryo-electron microscopy to determine snapshots of bacterial pili as they are being assembled. The pili we studied are critical for uropathogenic strains of E. coli to colonize the urinary tract and cause urinary tract infections. Our work revealed a new stage in the pilus assembly process and new details about how these structures are built on the bacterial surface.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Readers should appreciate the detailed molecular mechanisms involved in building bacterial virulence structures such as pili and learn how these structures are assembled on the bacterial surface.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Antibiotic resistance is a major health threat. New strategies are needed to combat increasing rates of antibiotic resistance while also preserving our beneficial microbiota that protect our health and proper immune functioning. One such strategy is to specifically interfere with bacterial virulence factors such as pili.
Our study reveals new molecular details about the pilus assembly process, providing new targets for the development of inhibitors that disrupt pilus assembly or function. For uropathogenic E. coli, disrupting pilus assembly would result in the bacteria being washed out of the urinary tract, thereby preventing bacterial infection without having to use antibiotics.
Handover mechanism of the growing pilus by the bacterial outer-membrane usher FimDMinge Du, Zuanning Yuan, Hongjun Yu, Nadine Henderson, Samema Sarowar, Gongpu Zhao, Glenn T. Werneburg, David G. Thanassi & Huilin Li
Nature: 03 October 2018
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