Tuberculosis (TB) is notoriously difficult to eradicate, in large part because infections caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) enter into a persistent state. In a study published online on September 16 in Nature Communications, Michael Berney, Ph.D., along with William R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D. and collaborators from New Zealand and Switzerland, report that Mtb is unable to scavenge sufficient amounts of several essential amino acids needed for cell wall synthesis and other processes. The study demonstrates vulnerability of the aspartate pathway even during chronic infection, a state where the tubercle bacilli are extraordinarily resilient. Dr. Berney and his team further uncovered an unusual disposal strategy that Mtb uses to control its metabolism. Since the aspartate pathway is absent in humans, targeting enzymes involved in this pathway could be a new strategy for developing more effective anti-TB drugs. Dr. Berney is an assistant professor of microbiology & immunology at Einstein. Dr. Jacobs is the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and a professor of genetics and of microbiology & immunology at Einstein.
Posted on: Friday, September 27, 2019