Protective Armor of Superbug C. difficile Revealed

The spectacular structure of the protective armor of superbug Clostridium difficile has been revealed for the first time, showing the close-knit yet flexible outer layer--like chain mail. This assembly prevents molecules getting in and provides a new target for future treatments, according to the scientists who have uncovered it. Publishing on February 25,2022 in Nature Communications, a team of scientists from Newcastle, Sheffield, and Glasgow Universities together with colleagues from Imperial College and Diamond Light Source, outline the structure of the main protein, SlpA, that forms the links of the chain mail and how they are arranged to form a pattern and create this flexible armor. This opens the possibility of designing C. difficile-specific drugs to break the protective layer and create holes to allow molecules to enter and kill the cell. The open-access Nature Communications article is titled “Structure and Assembly of the S-Layer in C. difficile.”

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