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Comparative Evolutionary Patterns of Burkholderia cenocepacia and B. multivorans During Chronic Co-infection of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient Lung

Comparative Evolutionary Patterns of Burkholderia cenocepacia and B. multivorans During Chronic Co-infection of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient Lung | iBB | Scoop.it

During chronic respiratory infections of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, bacteria adaptively evolve in response to the nutritional and immune environment. A research paper from iBB-BSRG researchers, just published in Frontiers in Microbiology (part of the Research Topic: Evolutionary Mechanisms of Infectious Diseases), contributes to the understanding of shared and species specific evolutionary patterns of B. cenocepacia and B. multivorans evolving in the same CF lung environment. Results support the idea that positive selection might be driven by the action of the host immune system, antibiotic therapy and low oxygen and iron concentrations. This research work, coordinated by Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia, results from the PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences (BIOTECnico program) of A. Amir Hassan. Dr. AA Hassan is currently working at the Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, Belgium.

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Global Evaluation of S. cerevisiae Regulatory Network: Challenging Previous Concepts

Global Evaluation of S. cerevisiae Regulatory Network: Challenging Previous Concepts | iBB | Scoop.it

Understanding the rules that govern complex transcriptional regulation has been attempted for many years. In this study, the full network of transcriptional regulatory associations currently known for Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as gathered in the latest release of the YEASTRACT database, was topologically evaluated. Overall, our analyses challenge previous results, pointing out towards the paucity of experimental evidence to support theories. This study, that stems from a collaboration between researchers from BSRG/iBB (Miguel Cacho Teixeira), INESC-ID (Pedro Monteiro) and IGC (Claudine Chaouiya), was just published in Scientific Reports.

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The celebration of the International Microorganism Day 2020

The celebration of the International Microorganism Day 2020 | iBB | Scoop.it

On the 17th of September, the International Microorganism Day was celebrated as a virtual event, with live broadcasting for 24 hours! The programme featured speakers and topics presented in all time zones, filled with lectures, discussions and webinars with participants from around the world. Thousands of spectators from all continents were online, and the approval and congratulations marked the public's enthusiasm for the initiative. The recording of the event can be watched here and more inform can be accessed here.

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The ABC Transporter Pdr18 is Required for Yeast Thermotolerance

The ABC Transporter Pdr18 is Required for Yeast Thermotolerance | iBB | Scoop.it

A new paper by researchers from iBB-BSRG describes, for the first time, the involvement of a plasma membrane multidrug/multixenobiotic resistance (MDR/MXR) ABC transporter in yeast thermotolerance. The expression of the ABC transporter Pdr18, required for pleotropic drug resistance and involved in ergosterol transport at the plasma membrane level, is related with decreased plasma membrane permeabilization induced by a supraoptimal growth temperature. Ergosterol biosynthesis and plasma membrane ergosterol content were implicated in yeast response and capacity to overcome stress induced by supraoptimal growth temperatures. These results support the notion that MDR/MXR transporters perform biological activities other than their accepted role as drug/xenobiotic exporters. Cláudia Godinho is the first author of this research work, coordinated by Isabel Sá-Correia and published in the journal Environmental Microbiology.

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Eduardo Brás Defends PhD Thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences

Eduardo Brás Defends PhD Thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences | iBB | Scoop.it

Eduardo Brás defended his PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences on Tuesday the 15th september 2020 (14:30 H). During the last years, and under the supervision João Pedro Conde from INESC-MN and Pedro Fernandes from BERG-iBB, Eduardo explored how microfluidic technology and microfabrication could be coupled with enzymes with goal of developing biosensing in different fields of application. The title of the thesis is “Biocatalysis in Microfluidic Systems: Biosensing and Rapid Screening Applications”.

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A Promising Platform for Drug Target Prediction in C. albicans

A Promising Platform for Drug Target Prediction in C. albicans | iBB | Scoop.it

New drugs are highly needed to treat human candidiasis. The ability to find interesting new drug targets is now expanded by the construction and validation of a global stoichiometric model describing the whole metabolic network in the human pathogen Candida albicans. This application of Systems Biology to tackle pathogenesis is highly innovative, and stems from a collaboration between researchers from BSRG/iBB (Miguel Cacho Teixeira), ITQB-NOVA (Isabel Rocha) and CEB-UMinho (Óscar Dias). The description of this model and of its potential have just been published in Journal of Fungi.

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International Microorganism Day 2020

International Microorganism Day 2020 | iBB | Scoop.it

We are, again, counting down to the International Microorganism Day (IMD) celebrated on September 17th. In a year in which a viral pandemic is plaguing the world, it is even more important to highlight the role that a multitude of microscopic living beings play in our health, environment and quality of life, as well as their biotechnological potential.

This year it is not possible to repeat the same multiple festive activities from previous celebrations that were already taking place in several countries. For this reason, the FEMS (Federation of European Microbiology Societies) and the Portuguese Microbiology Society (SPM) have joined forces to organize a 24-hour online microbiology marathon, with videos, lectures and live discussions, to promote Microbiology and celebrate the 2020 edition of the International Day of the Microorganism! In this organization, FEMS and SPM counted on the collaboration of the Biological Sciences group of the iBB-Institute of Bioengineering and Biosciences and the Department of Bioengineering of the Instituto Superior Técnico. Professor Isabel Sá Correia, President of SPM, the PhD researcher Cláudia Godinho and the PhD student in Biotechnology and Biosciences Nuno Bourbon Melo, are part of the team in charge of organizing and publicizing the event.

The Microbiology marathon will be broadcasted online during the 24h of the 17th of September (Lisbon time) and made accessible from the IMD website, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. The provisional program is now available and includes the participation of renowned speakers, science communicators, young researchers and PhD students, distributed across the globe, with an important national and Técnico participation. Celebrate with us this day and contribute by publishing opinions and materials related to IMD with the hashtag #internationalmicroorganismday! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Structure and Lateral Organization of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5- bisphosphate (Cover of Molecules)

Structure and Lateral Organization of Phosphatidylinositol 4,5- bisphosphate (Cover of Molecules) | iBB | Scoop.it

Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P2) stands out from other plasma membrane lipids as one of the most important regulators of membrane-associated signaling events. PI(4,5)P2 is able to engage in a multitude of simultaneous cellular functions that are temporally and spatially regulated through the presence of localized transient pools of PI(4,5)P2 in the membrane. These pools are crucial for the recruitment, activation, and organization of signaling proteins and consequent regulation of downstream signaling. A review published by the PhD student Luís Borges-Araújo (from the Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics Doctoral Program)  and Fábio Fernandes showcases some of the most important PI(4,5)P2 molecular and biophysical properties, as well as their impact on its membrane dynamics, lateral organization, and interactions with other biochemical partners. The review was published in the Molecules Journal and was selected as the cover of the September issue.

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Potential of Azurin as an Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Agent Unveiled by Molecular Simulation

Potential of Azurin as an Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Agent Unveiled by Molecular Simulation | iBB | Scoop.it

Several studies have shown that the bacterial protein azurin and its derived peptide p28, can serve as a source for the development of emerging therapeutic drugs to treat cancer as well as against various infectious agents, such as viruses and parasites. Based on that, Arsenio M Fialho started collaboration with two Indian partners aiming to study the feasibility of using azurin and its derived peptide p28 as a protein-peptide-based strategy to inhibit/block SARS-CoV-2 infections. So far, based on a molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulations study, we observed that azurin and particularly the p28 peptide interact with SARS-CoV-2- spike (S) receptor-binding domain and form stable complexes. This work has been published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics.

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Portable Platform for Point-of-Need Testing of Plant Health

Portable Platform for Point-of-Need Testing of Plant Health | iBB | Scoop.it

Microfluidic biosensing devices are becoming a key part in the development of point-of-care diagnosis systems for medical, animal and agricultural applications alike. However, to fully take advantage of the features presented by microfluidics technology, one has to be capable of providing the appropriate instrumentation for the actuation of the devices and transduction of the results produced by said devices. A versatile and portable platform for the optical transduction of microfluidic devices was recently the target of a publication in the IEEE Sensors Journal  In this work, thin-film, hydrogenated amorphous silicon photosensors are used to transduce the optical assay for the detection of azelaic acid in wine producing grapes infected with the fungus B. cinerea. The portable prototype provides all necessary electronics for liquid manipulation, light sources and electronic amplification for the assay read-out. The work was performed by Biotechnology PhD student Eduardo Brás (INESC-MN/IBB) and Biotechnology Alumni Dr. Rui Pinto under the supervision ofJoão Pedro Conde (INESC-MN/DBE) and Pedro Fernandes (BERG-iBB).

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Conditioned Medium from Azurin-expressing MSC Demonstrates Anti-tumor Activity

Conditioned Medium from Azurin-expressing MSC Demonstrates Anti-tumor Activity | iBB | Scoop.it

Cell-based therapies can enhance the specificity of anti-cancer therapeutic agents. In this context, human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) hold a promising future as cell delivery systems for anti-cancer proteins due to their innate tropism for tumors. iBB researchers Marília Silva, Gabriel Monteiro, Arsénio Fialho, Nuno Bernardes and Cláudia Lobato da Silva, engineered human MSC through non-viral methods to secrete a human codon-optimized version of azurin (hazu), a bacterial protein with demonstrated anti-cancer activity towards different cancer models in vitro and in vivo. Upon treatment with conditioned media (CM) from these engineered cells, a decrease in cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion was seen, and an increase in cell death was observed for breast and lung cancer cell models. The results achieved by SCERG- and BSRG-iBB researchers were published in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, Stem Cell Research section.

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Webinar on the Marine Sponge Microbiome by Rodrigo Costa

Webinar on the Marine Sponge Microbiome by Rodrigo Costa | iBB | Scoop.it

Rodrigo Costa from iBB-BSRG has been invited by FEMS Microbiology Ecology to speak at the Journal’s upcoming webinar on the “marine sponge microbiome”. Dr. Costa will be giving a talk entitled “Distinct adaptive features in alphaproteobacterial symbionts of marine sponges” on Thursday the 9th of July 2020, at 3pm Lisbon time. The study presented by Dr. Costa results from a collaboration with Prof. Ute Hentschel’s team at GEOMAR/University of Kiel (Germany). The webinar will bring together renowned scientist in the field of marine symbioses and metagenomics and will address the roles of symbiotic microorganisms in nutrient cycling and natural product biosynthesis in the oceans.

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Continuous Aqueous Two-phase Extraction

Continuous Aqueous Two-phase Extraction | iBB | Scoop.it

Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) can bring numerous benefits to the downstream processing of biological products, including high recovery yields, high selectivity and relatively low cost. With biomanufacturing entering an era where continuous processing is regarded as the key solution to increase flexibility and decrease costs, the intrinsic characteristics of ATPE and high degree of integration, makes it highly suitable for continuous processing. In a recent paper published in Fluid Phase Equilibria, Diogo Faria and colleagues from BERG-IBB make a brief review of the history of continuous ATPE, analyse the main devices used in continuous extraction, and discuss the key and future challenges in the development of continuous processes.

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Maturation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cerebellar Neurons in the Absence of Co-Culture

Maturation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cerebellar Neurons in the Absence of Co-Culture | iBB | Scoop.it

In a new paper published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, SCERG-iBB researchers in collaboration with colleagues from the Institute of Molecular Medicine (iMM) describe a novel differentiation strategy that uses defined medium to generate Purkinje cells, granule cells, interneurons, and deep cerebellar nuclei projection neurons, that self-formed and matured into electrically active cells. This research is expected to result in better models for the study of cerebellar dysfunctions and represent an important advancement towards the development of autologous replacement strategies for treating cerebellar degenerative diseases.

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Comparative Evolutionary Patterns of Burkholderia cenocepacia and B. multivorans During Chronic Co-infection of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient Lung

Comparative Evolutionary Patterns of Burkholderia cenocepacia and B. multivorans During Chronic Co-infection of a Cystic Fibrosis Patient Lung | iBB | Scoop.it

During chronic respiratory infections of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, bacteria adaptively evolve in response to the nutritional and immune environment. A research paper from iBB-BSRG researchers, just published in Frontiers in Microbiology (part of the Research Topic: Evolutionary Mechanisms of Infectious Diseases), contributes to the understanding of shared and species specific evolutionary patterns of B. cenocepacia and B. multivorans evolving in the same CF lung environment. Results support the idea that positive selection might be driven by the action of the host immune system, antibiotic therapy and low oxygen and iron concentrations. This research work, coordinated by Prof. Isabel Sá-Correia, results from the PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences (BIOTECnico program) of A. Amir Hassan. Dr. AA Hassan is currently working at the Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ghent University, Belgium.

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Tailored Cytokine Optimization for ex vivo Expansion of Human Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells

Tailored Cytokine Optimization for ex vivo Expansion of Human Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells | iBB | Scoop.it

Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an accepted and appealing alternative source of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPC) for hematopoietic cell transplants. However, low UCB volume recovered from births results in an unsatisfactory cell dose for transplants in adults, having initially limited transplants of a single UCB unit to pediatric patients. Ex vivo expansion of HSPC based on the addition of exogenous cytokines.has been pursued to address this problem. Notably, selection of individual cytokines and their concentrations for an expansion cocktail has differed between existing strategies. To improve the effectiveness of these platforms, namely targeting clinical approval, iBB researchers optimized the cytokine cocktails in two clinically relevant expansion platforms for HSPC, a liquid suspension culture system (CS_HSPC) and a co-culture system with bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (CS_HSPC/MSC).. The tailored and novel optimized cocktails determined made it possible to individually maximize cytokine contribution in both studied platforms, leading to an increase in the expansion platform performance, while allowing a rational side-by-side comparison between them and enhancing our knowledge on the impact of cytokine supplementation on the HSPC expansion process. The results achieved were published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, Stem Cell Systems Bioengineering section.

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Mycobacterium vaccae adaptation to disinfectants and hand sanitisers

Mycobacterium vaccae adaptation to disinfectants and hand sanitisers | iBB | Scoop.it

In a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of disinfectants and hand rubbing solutions became widespread. However, the use of such mixtures may influence bacteria that live/survive in human skin and surfaces, and increase their tolerance/resistance to e.g. antibiotics. In a study recently published in Antibiotics, Carla CCR de Carvalho, Raquel Teixeira and Pedro Fernandes (BERG-iBB), showed that Mycobacterium vaccae, which is being considered as an adjuvant to antituberculosis therapy, is being tested for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, and as an anti-depressive agent, adapted to disinfectants and hand rubbing solutions, and increased tolerance towards levofloxacin, thioridazine, and omeprazole. The use of disinfectants, especially those aimed at healthcare facilities, by the general public on a daily basis should probably be prevented.

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Half-Sandwich Cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) Complexes: A New Antimalarial Chemotype

Half-Sandwich Cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) Complexes: A New Antimalarial Chemotype | iBB | Scoop.it

The effectiveness of antiplasmodial drugs against the blood stage of infection is increasingly threatened by the emergence and spread of drug-resistant parasites. Here a small library of “half-sandwich” cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) compounds of the general formula [(η5-C5R5)Ru(PPh3)(N-N)][PF6] was screened for activity against the blood stage of CQ-sensitive 3D7-GFP, CQ-resistant Dd2, and artemisinin-resistant IPC5202 Plasmodium falciparum strains and the liver stage of Plasmodium berghei. We showed that some of the compounds are potent dual-stage antiplasmodials, displaying Plasmodium falciparum-selective accumulation in infected erythrocytes. The study was coordinated by researchers from Faculdade de Farmácia with collaboration of researchers from IHMT, IMM and iBB-IST (Sandra Pinto). The results were published in Inorg. Chem. 

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Mafalda Cavalheiro to Defend PhD Thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences

Mafalda Cavalheiro to Defend PhD Thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences | iBB | Scoop.it

Mafalda Banazol de Santa Rita Cavalheiro will be defending her PhD thesis in Biotechnology and Biosciences at Instituto Superior Técnico, Monday the 12th of October 2020, at 2pm (https://videoconf-colibri.zoom.us/j/97930626637). During the last years, and under the supervision of Miguel Cacho Teixeira from BSRG-iBB, Mafalda studied molecular and biophysical properties that enable the fungal pathogen Candida glabrata to cause recalcitrant life threatening infections, based on its ability to evolve towards a drug resistance phenotype or to establish stable biofilms. The title of her thesis is “Deciphering Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Candida glabrata: in the Crossroad Between Drug Resistance and Virulence”.

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Smart Seaweed: Smart Valorization of Macroalgae

Smart Seaweed: Smart Valorization of Macroalgae | iBB | Scoop.it

Macroalgae are an emerging alternative source of various chemicals and materials due to their unique structure, biochemical composition and high photosynthetic rates. They are promising feedstocks for the sustainable supply of commodities and specialties for food, feed, materials and energy. BERG researchers are heading the project "Smart Seaweed: Smart Valorization of Macroalgae" that aims at (i) the development of new products of biotechnological origin such as fermented seaweed, bioplastics and ectoines from marine resources and (ii) the utilization of by-products of the sea industries. Check the project web site here.

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International Microorganism Day 2020

International Microorganism Day 2020 | iBB | Scoop.it

Stay tuned.

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Microfluidic Packed-Bed Reactors

Microfluidic Packed-Bed Reactors | iBB | Scoop.it

Optimization of biocatalytic processes is crucial to drive down the price of pharmaceutical and other high-value molecules. L-DOPA and dopamine are two molecules with pharmaceutical relevance, often used in the treatment of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. In a paper published in the Journal of Biotechnology, Biotechnology PhD student Eduardo Brás and supervisors João Pedro Conde (INESC-MN/DBE) and Pedro Fernandes (IBB) used a microfluidic packed-bed reactor to optimize the enzymatic conversion of L-tyrosine to dopamine. The work culminated with the up-scale (780-fold) of the optimal conditions for L-DOPA synthesis, while maintaining the same output as obtained in the miniaturized system. This type of system can be used to expedite process development in the future.

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Affinity-based Physical Hydrogels for Stem Cell Encapsulation and Differentiation

Affinity-based Physical Hydrogels for Stem Cell Encapsulation and Differentiation | iBB | Scoop.it

Affinity-triggered hydrogels were created using one of the most selective and high-affinity pairs found in Nature, avidin-biotin. The multimerization of biotin was studied by conjugation into different multi-arm polyethylene glycol molecules. Depending on the multimerization, assemblies with tunable affinity constant were obtained leading to hydrogels with different mechanical properties and controllable erosion time and profiles. The results showed that mimicking natural multivalency gave rise to robust biocompatible hydrogel with applications in tissue engineering and stem cell research. The study results from ongoing collaboration between Cecília Roque (FCT-NOVA) and Tiago Fernandes (DBE-Técnico) and was recently published in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.

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New Pathway Controlling Azole Resistance in Candida glabrata

New Pathway Controlling Azole Resistance in Candida glabrata | iBB | Scoop.it

The ability to acquire azole resistance is an emblematic trait of the fungal pathogen Candida glabrata. Understanding the molecular basis of azole resistance in this pathogen is crucial to design more suitable therapeutic strategies. In this study, the transcription factor Rpn4 was found to play a key role in the transcriptome-wide response to fluconazole. Rpn4 is described a new regulator of the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway in C. glabrata, contributing to plasma membrane homeostasis, decreasing azole drug accumulation and, thus, conferring azole resistance. These results  obtained by an international team led by Miguel Cacho Teixeira, BSRG-iBB, just published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, are expected to contribute to maintain the usability of this drug in antifungal therapy.

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Adaptation and Survival Strategies of Bacteria in Aqueous Pharmaceutical Products

Adaptation and Survival Strategies of Bacteria in Aqueous Pharmaceutical Products | iBB | Scoop.it

The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) bacteria are feared contaminants in pharmaceutical industries and cause nosocomial outbreaks, posing health threats to immunocompromised individuals and cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. In this study, the adaptation and survival of B. cepacia and B. contaminans isolates was investigated after long-term incubation in nutrient depleted saline solutions supplemented with increasing concentrations of the biocidal preservative benzalkonium chloride (BZK), recreating the storage conditions of pharmaceutical products. This study just published in the section Biosafety and Biosecurity of Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology is co-authored by several members of Isabel Sá-Correia team from iBB/BSRG. This study reveals mechanisms underlying the prevalence of Bcc bacteria as contaminants of aqueous pharmaceutical products containing BZK, which often lead to false-negative results during quality control and routine testing.

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Phenotypic Characterization of Trimeric Autotransporter Adhesin-defective bcaC Mutant of Burkholderia cenocepacia

Phenotypic Characterization of Trimeric Autotransporter Adhesin-defective bcaC Mutant of Burkholderia cenocepacia | iBB | Scoop.it

The role of the bcaC  trimeric autotransporter adhesion (TAA) gene in the virulence of Burkholderia cenocepacia has been disclosed by iBB researchers Andreia Pimenta, Dalila Mil-Homens, Sandra Pinto and Arsénio Fialho in a report published in Microbes and Infection. TAAs are homotrimeric proteins of the outer membrane of many Gram-negative pathogens that play a key role in adhesion to host cells. Two insertional-mutants for TAA bcaC and histidine kinase (HK) BCAM0218 genes were constructed. Findings indicate that bcaC encodes for a large multifunctional TAA that has hemagglutination activity and is also required for maximal host cell adherence. The neighbor BCAM0218 HK encoding gene was identified as a critical player that negatively controls the expression of the bcaC TAA gene. All together, the findings represent a step forward for a better characterization of the subset of B. cenocepacia TAA-encoding genes. This article was selected as the highlighted article of the July 2020 issue of the Microbes and Infection journal.

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