Washington, May 7 : Indian researchers from University of Hyderabad have identified an iron transport mechanism of TB causing bacteria, which can be a potential target for developing drugs for treating the disease.
The study led by Professor Seyed E Hasnain of the Institute of Life Sciences, at the University of Hyderabad, have worked out the mechanism of iron uptake system of Mycobacterium which can open up new avenues of developing treatment drugs.
Iron acquisition and regulation in intracellular pathogens especially mycobacterium is a central survival mechanism working at the interface of host-pathogen interactions.
The researchers used various in vitro and in vivo methods to understand how the bacterium imports iron from the cell where it lives. They also studied how the TB bacillus survived in the low iron environment of the human host.
The export of unbound small molecular weight high-affinity iron binding molecules, siderophores, and the subsequent internalization of their iron bound form is the centre stage of TB bacilli survival within the host.
They team also identified two genes that were previously believed as importers, were indeed working, in coherence with another binding protein as an exporter-importer system.
The study further showed that that siderophores are actively exported outside the mycobacterial cell and didn't passively diffuse as believed earlier.
These three actively interacting genes boost the iron uptake and provide a feedback for export of only the non-iron bound siderophores and exclusive import of the iron bound forms.
The researchers believe that their findings would increase global efforts to understand the survival strategies of the pathogen and would provide a crucial foothold to tame one of the most deadly pathogen.
The study appears in May 7 issue of the open-access journal PLoS ONE.