Bridging the antibiotic gapAug. 7, 2015, 8:00 AM
by Sanjay Mishra and Bill Snyder
Antibiotics are the mainstay in a doctor’s toolkit. However, extensive use of antibiotics has also led to increased resistance in bacteria, prompting the search for new antibiotics.
Orthosomycins, which are produced by terrestrial bacteria, exhibit broad-spectrum antibiotic properties. They have a unique scaffold, or structure, which may reduce the potential for bacterial resistance. However, it has been difficult to make these compounds because their biosynthetic pathway was unknown.
In a paper published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they show that bacterial enzymes called oxygenases assemble a chemical structure, the orthoester linkage, required for orthosomycin’s antibiotic activity.
By inserting an oxygen molecule between two sugars to close a ring of carbon chains, oxygenases play a key role in the production of orthosomycin antibiotics, the researchers concluded.
The study was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grants HL007751 and RR026915.
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