Enzyme for Antimicrobial and Vaccine Development
Scientists at the University of California have shown that a specific enzyme is an essential regulator of Salmonella virulence. This enzyme is prevalent in many organisms including most enterobacteria, certain gram negative and gram positive bacteria, as well as archaebacteria. It is expected that this enzyme will be a major virulence factor for many types of infection, including cholera (Vibrio cholerae), the plague (Yersinia), brain infections (Haemophilus influenzae), typhoid fever (Salmonella typhi), and kidney disease (E. Coli O157:H7).
Salmonella typhimurium strains that lack or overproduce this enzyme are highly attentuated; thus therapeutic agents that block this enzyme are candidates for a new class of antimicrobials. Moreover, mice immunized with strains that do not produce this enzyme survived a wild type challenge of 10+4 above the LD50 (lethal dose required to kill 50% of the animals); thus these mutant strains can serve as live attenuated vaccines. Since DNA adenine methylases ("Dam") is present in many pathogens that cause serious health problems worldwide, including cholera, dysentery, meningitis, typhoid fever and the plague, Dams are potentially excellent targets for both vaccines and antimicrobials).
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