Science

Enzyme to arrest bacteria cell growth discovered

CCMB director Rakesh Mishra, left, Manjula Reddy and research scholar Ch. Pavan Kumar in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Scientists at the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) have discovered a new enzyme which helps in breaking cell walls of bacteria and hence, offers a potential for a new drug delivery route to arrest the anti-bacterial resistance through existing antibiotic drugs.

At a press conference here on Tuesday, CCMB director Rakesh Mishra and senior scientist Manjula Reddy explained that it is crucial to know how cells grow in bacteria to understand the anti-bacterial resistance to currently available antibiotics.

Scientists all over the world are trying to understand this phenomenon and the lab of Dr. Reddy has been working on how e. coli bacteria cells function, divide and grow to understand diseases like cholera, leprosy, tuberculosis and so on for the past decade.

Principal players

Dr. Reddy and her research scholar Ch. Pavan Kumar have been working on how the cell governs the synthetic machinery to build the cell wall in the first place, identified the principal players behind the process and discovered the new mechanism or enzyme through which the cell regulates growth of its wall.

Blocking function

Other bacteria, too, have the same enzyme working on cell division as the cell wall is fundamental for bacterial growth and division. Therefore, by blocking this ‘scissors enzyme’ from functioning, new ways to target microbes could be found, leading to a new wave of antibiotic drugs.

In contrast, the classical antibiotic drugs target the last stage of cell synthesis to prevent cell growth like penicillin that hits the machinery that creates the cell wall — a mesh-like structure of cross-linked sugars and peptides.

New combination

“What has been found is very novel. Now the next step is to find out the molecule of the enzyme endo-pepcidine and it has to be followed by the drug trials to unravel a new combination of drugs to replace existing antibiotics though it is difficult to forecast a time frame,” said Dr. Mishra and Dr. Reddy.

The findings have been published in the latest issue of Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, USA.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:16:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/enzyme-to-arrest-bacteria-cell-growth-discovered/article26715075.ece

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