Better treatment for tuberculosis possible with biochemist's findings

Apr 16, 2012

Recent discoveries by a Virginia Tech biochemist could lead to a more effective drug design to combat the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis infection. Spread through the air from one person to another, tuberculosis is responsible for approximately two million deaths per year, worldwide, and the emergence of drug resistant forms, specifically MDR- and XDR-TB, is an escalating challenge.

Once a person is infected with tuberculosis, he or she typically faces four to six months of treatment, if it is even available, using a combination of as many as six drugs. Symptoms include chest pain, coughing up blood, weakness, fever, and chills.

Marcy Hernick, an assistant professor of biochemistry and affiliated faculty member with the Fralin Life Science Institute, has discovered that the amino acid tyrosine plays several key roles in one enzyme involved in the pathogenesis of , the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Tyrosine aids in the regulation of the binding and release of small molecules, as well as the chemistry carried out by the enzyme.

"When studying pathogenesis, we wanted to map out the active site of the enzyme to understand which amino acid chains were necessary for catalysis to occur," Hernick said. "We found a tyrosine residue on the structure that we wouldn't have thought to be important. But, after further analysis, we think tyrosine moves to carry out different steps in the ."

This information will be useful in the field of drug inhibitor design, Hernick explained, because scientists will want to develop a drug that can interact with tyrosine in order to alter . Hernicks findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry this month.

Explore further: Protein secrets of Ebola virus

Provided by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New avenues for overcoming tuberculosis drug resistance

Apr 27, 2010

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a global health problem, in part due to the exceptional drug resistance displayed by the TB-causing agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Beyond even acquired drug resistance, these bacteria are al ...

Recommended for you

Chemical biologists find new halogenation enzyme

17 hours ago

Molecules containing carbon-halogen bonds are produced naturally across all kingdoms of life and constitute a large family of natural products with a broad range of biological activities. The presence of halogen substituents ...

Protein secrets of Ebola virus

22 hours ago

The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in ...

Protein courtship revealed through chemist's lens

22 hours ago

Staying clear of diseases requires that the proteins in our cells cooperate with one another. But, it has been a well-guarded secret how tens of thousands of different proteins find the correct dancing partners ...

Decoding 'sweet codes' that determine protein fates

Sep 15, 2014

We often experience difficulties in identifying the accurate shape of dynamic and fluctuating objects. This is especially the case in the nanoscale world of biomolecules. The research group lead by Professor Koichi Kato of ...

User comments : 0