Proteins on the prowl

Defensive proteins kill bacteria invading mouse cells by delivering deadly sacs of antimicrobial chemicals

Megan Scudellari
May 4, 2011
Researchers have identified the function of an obscure but large family of proteins whose function in cellular immune responses had been unknown.
Fluorescent micrograph of Gbp1 (green) targeting mycobacteria (magenta rods) in interferon-activated macrophages (red, actin staining;
blue, nuclear staining)
Image courtesy of John MacMicking
Guanylate-binding proteins, Gbps for short, protect cells from pathogens that have snuck into a cell by activating cellular degradation machinery, according to a study published today (May 5) in linkurl:Science.;http://www.sciencemag.org/content/current Understanding how the proteins work could help spur the development of small drug molecules to activate a cell's own defenses against infection, a potential alternative to antibiotics."The function of the Gbps remained mysterious for a very long time despite the fact that they are produced in massive amounts upon infection," said linkurl:Sascha Martens,;http://www.mfpl.ac.at/index.php?cid=872 who studies autophagy at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories in Austria and was not involved in the research, in an...
The Scientist.Listeria monocytogenes,Mycobacerium bovis,Gbp1Gbp1
Microbiologist John MacMicking shows how specialized proteins
battle bacteria inside immune cells.
Video courtesy of Science and John MacMicking
Kim, B.H., et al., "A family of IFN-gamma inducible 65-kD GTPases protects against bacterial infection," Science, 332:717-21, 2011.



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