Tuberculosis Protein

Cornelius Gati and other researchers were studying a protein thought to be important for the progression of tuberculosis when they made a strange discovery, unlike anything scientists have seen before: a giant cavity that could transport a wide range of molecules into tuberculosis bacteria.


we were studying a protein involved in

tuberculosis and we have discovered a

strange new feature of a molecule that's

important to disease progression it

turns out to be a generalist in shuttle

many different molecules into the

bacteria we've never seen anything like

that before

now the question is what purpose does

this protein serve and could it help us

fight tuberculosis in the long run

tuberculosis bacteria actually grow very

slowly it can take up to two years to

treat with antibiotics and this also

means that it's very hard to study

everything people study on the bug

itself just takes a very long time


tuberculosis is genetically very

different from other bacterial making it

hard to translate what we learned from

other bacteria on to the disease it

naturally lived inside cells of the

immune system it's like a criminal

hiding in the trunk of a police car it's

hiding in plain sight which makes it

impossible for the immune system to find



passing the cell membrane is one of the

main bottlenecks in antibiotic research

our hypothesis is that this molecule is

one of the key transporters to shuttle

antibiotics into the cell the hope is

that we will use this knowledge to

design new antibiotics that can enter

the cell through this specific channel

this study has raised as many questions

as it answers questions about

tuberculosis the bigger questions about

biology in general it's an exciting



Olivier Bonin/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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