PLoS Biology paper shows that WspR creates c-di-GMP, which then deactivates it.

Researchers identified the structure of an enzyme involved in the formation of biofilms, a sheet composed of many individual bacteria glued together that allows them to escape from antibiotics and the immune system.

It is thought that most chronic infections are caused by the formation of a biofilm. Previous research has shown that biofilms are formed when the concentration of a molecule called c-di-GMP gets above a certain threshold.

The current research used Pseudomonas, the pathogen that forms biofilms in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis. Scientists determined the crystal structure of the enzyme, WspR, that makes c-di-GMP in Pseudomonas and followed up with biochemical analysis of the enzyme.

WspR exists in an active form that produces c-di-GMP and is then bound by c-di-GMP and forced into an inactive form, according to the team. Because the signaling molecules involved in biofilm formation, such as c-di-GMP, are uniquely found in bacteria, the researchers hope that there is potential for new therapeutic treatments based on this work.

The investigators involved in this study came from Cornell University and University of California, Berkeley. The paper is published on March 25 in PLoS Biology.

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