A Rosetta Stone For Microbes' Secret Language?
Posted on January 01, 2008 at 01:49:36 pm
David Spring, Martin Welch, and James T. Hodgkinson explain that researchers long have known that bacteria communicate with each other. Microbes release small molecules that enable millions of individuals in a population to coordinate their behavior.
Disease-causing bacteria use this language to decide when to infect a person or other host. Decoding the structure and function of compounds involved in this elaborate signaling process, known as "quorum sensing," could lead to new medicines to block the signals and prevent infections.
-ADVERTISEMENT-The report describes development of a group of powerful compounds, called N-acylated homoserine lactone (AHL) analogues that are effective against a broad-range of bacterial types, including those that cause diseases in humans.
These compounds are "some of the most potent synthetic modulators of quorum sensing" identified to date, they say. In addition to showing promise for fighting antibiotic-resistant infections, the compounds may help prevent the growth of biofilms that foul medical implants and cause tooth decay and gum disease, the scientists note.
The commentary article, "Learning the Language of Bacteria," is published in the November issue of ACS Chemical Biology.