by Science Writer Kim Woolcock
An interdisciplinary team studying “switches” that activate virulence in pathogens has identified how the protein VirB regulates virulence in Shigella, bacteria that cause shigellosis. Shigella is a leading cause of dysentery-related death globally is , and new drug targets are needed. A team led by professor and microbiologist Helen Wing at University of Nevada Las Vegas revealed that VirB must bind to the nucleoside triphosphate CTP (like ATP, but with cytidine instead of adenine) before activating fifty or more virulence genes in Shigella. This work illuminates the virulence mechanism of a key global pathogen, potentially opening the door for new treatments for this and other pathogens with similar virulence mechanisms. The open-access article “VirB, a Key Transcriptional Regulator of Shigella Virulence, Requires a CTP Ligand for Its Regulatory Activities” was published in mBio on September 20, 2023.