Researchers Discover New Family of Gram-Negative Bacterial Enzymes Related to Infection Capability

Gram-negative bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella are a global cause of concern as they can cause disease outbreaks. They release osmo-regulated periplasmic glucans (OPGs)—a diverse group of long-chain carbohydrates—that have a role in infection. Researchers from Japan have investigated two OPG-related genes, OpgG and OpgD, in E. coli. Their discovery of a novel family of β-1,2-glucanases could provide insights into bacterial pathogenicity. Gram-negative bacteria cause a variety of infectious diseases in plants and animals alike. Outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli infections often make headlines due to their severity, and people have to resort to allopathic as well as natural remedies, increasing the burden on the healthcare system. While antibiotics offer an effective solution against bacterial infections, the increasing incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has prompted researchers to identify other possible treatments against these infections. With technological advances and modern medicine, researchers are looking into the possibility of disrupting the pathogenicity of the bacteria at a molecular level by interfering with molecular processes at the gene as well as protein level. Gram-negative bacteria, notorious for their infection capability, produce osmo-regulated periplasmic glucans (OPGs)—long-chain carbohydrates made of multiple glucose units—in the extracellular and/or periplasmic space. Initially, it was believed that OPGs were by-products produced under low solute concentrations, but recent reports confirm that they are crucial for pathogenicity, symbiosis, cell adhesion, and signaling.

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