Issue Date: February 21, 2011
RNA Recycling As An Antibiotic Plan
Molecules that interfere with RNA processing in bacterial cells might have potential as a new class of antibiotics, a study in mice suggests (PLoS Pathogens, DOI: 10.1371/
journal.ppat.1001287). Microbes such as Staphylococcus aureus have developed resistance to many of medicine’s most powerful treatments, so researchers are hunting for drugs that work in different ways. The RNA-recycling process, which bacteria need to break down protein-making instructions that are no longer necessary and create new ones, has been considered a ripe target. But the enzyme players in gram-positive bacteria such as S. aureus aren’t clearly understood. Enter Paul M. Dunman of the University of Rochester and colleagues, who found that an essential bacterial protein called RnpA helps degrade those RNA instructions. They searched for inhibitors of RnpA and found RNPA1000, a molecule that blocks RnpA’s activity and helps mice survive S. aureus infection. Although the molecule is toxic to human cells at effective bacteria-killing concentrations, next-generation compounds may work better, the team says. They plan to use RNPA1000 to further probe RnpA’s role in infection.
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