M. tuberculosis contrasted with all other pathogenic bacteria whose toxins contribute to illness or death, shows study

M. tuberculosis contrasted with all other pathogenic bacteria whose toxins contribute to illness or death, shows study

Six years ago, Michael Niederweis, Ph.D., described the first toxin ever found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This toxin, tuberculosis necrotizing toxin, or TNT, became the founding member of a novel class of previously unrecognized toxins present in more than 600 bacterial and fungal species, as determined by protein sequence similarity. The toxin is released as M. tuberculosis bacteria survive and grow inside their human macrophage host, killing the macrophage and allowing the escape and spread of the bacteria. For 132 years, the lack of an identified toxin in M. tuberculosis had contrasted with nearly all other pathogenic bacteria whose toxins contribute to illness or death. M. tuberculosis infects 9 million people a year and kills more than 1 million. Now, in another groundbreaking work, the University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher and colleagues describe how two small ESX proteins made by the M. tuberculosis bacteria mediate secretion of TNT by pore formation in the membranes that envelop the bacteria. This finding may have broad application because a distinctive three-amino acid motif found on EsxE and EsxF -- tryptophan/any-amino-acid/glycine, …
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