Washington, Oct 10 : A new gene, named Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8), has been identified to play a major role in human susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis, according to a new study.
Pulmonary tuberculosis is a contagious lung disease caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis).
Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) researchers and their collaborators in The Netherlands, Indonesia, United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation, also found that it is the males who are more susceptible to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections than females
TLR8 has previously been shown to recognize some factors from viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
"We are really excited about this discovery as it is the first time TLR8 has been implicated in bacteria infections. Our analysis of the results from cohort studies in Indonesia and Russia suggested that susceptibility was attributed to genetic variants of TLR8, which is located at the X chromosome," said Dr. Sonia Davila, GIS Research Scientist and first author of the article.
She added: "Males carrying only one copy of the gene could have a higher chance of suffering from the disease. These findings open up a whole new area of research and we hope that it will increase our understanding of the disease process of pulmonary tuberculosis."
"The identification of a role for TLR8 in TB infection has the potential to open up new areas of exploration in TB host/pathogen interactions and provide researchers and clinician scientists with novel targets for therapeutic intervention. This is extremely important given the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of M.tuberculosis that are refractive to current treatment regimes," said a co-author of the study.
The study was published in the current issue of PLoS Genetics.