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Scientists Discover How Bacteria Travels From Mouth To Heart

Update Date: Feb 13, 2017 09:59 AM EST

Scientists recently discovered how bacteria travels from the mouth to the heart. In particular, the scientists from the University of Bristol was able to determine how bacteria, usually found in the mouth, travels it way down to the heart to cause infective endocarditis. This discovery did not only help scientists understand how bacteria operates but also help them develop possible treatments to stop infective endocarditis and other cardiovascular diseases caused by bacteria.

The study, published in the current issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry, worked on the previous finding of the researchers regarding a protein called CshA and its role in the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii. Using the UK National synchrotron facility, in particular, the Diamond Light Source, the researchers were able to study the structure and dynamics of CshA.

The researchers found that the protein CshA acts as the molecular rope that helps the oral bacterium S. Gordonii to attach itself to the surface of a human cell. They also found that CshA has a flexible part that allows itself to be cast out by the bacterium like a lasso. The researchers called this the "catch-clamp" mechanism.

The catch-clamp mechanism involves the CshA protein acting as a rope and makes in contact with >fibronectin< on the surface of the human cell. The attachment of the CshA protein and the fibronectin is the catch of the mechanism.

After which, the clamp part of the mechanism begins as the CshA protein binds the S. Gordonii and fibronectin tightly together. This then anchors the S. Gordonii to the host cell surface and ready to travel towards the heart.

With this discovery, the study opens up the possibilities of the development of new treatments that could target either the catch or clamp even both of the mechanisms. The researchers even add that targeting the clamp part of the mechanism is particularly intriguing as most bacteria are less likely to be resistant to agents that target multiple steps during the infective process.

The study provides the basis for the development of anti-adhesive agents that target bacteria like the Streptococcus Gordonii and other related bacteria. In particular, the new drugs can be used to stop infective endocarditis. This type of cardiovascular disease is caused by bacteria that causes blood clots to form in the valves of the heart. Almost over 2,000 cases of infective endocarditis have been reported in the UK and cases reported are rising.

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