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Molecular Architecture of Treponema Pallidum, Bacterium That Causes Syphilis

A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute, the University of Connecticut Health Center, the CDC and the Wadsworth Center, have used state-of-the-art technology to elucidate the molecular architecture of Treponema pallidum, the bacterium which causes syphilis. The previously unknown detailed structure of the bacteria can now be shown in three dimensions. This provides the first real image of the pathogen and reveals previously unknown features, which may help fight the spread of syphilis.

Cryo-electron tomography (CET) is a type of microscope that is used to obtain a three-dimensional reconstruction of a sample from two dimensional images at extremely low temperatures. Using CET, the research team has clarified the fundamental differences between Treponema pallidum and other gram-negative bacteria.

This research will be featured as the cover story in the December 15th issue of the Journal of Bacteriology. According to lead author Jacques Izard, Ph.D., this work provides a clear snapshot of a cell in real time. Added Izard, "This changes how we study this bacterium. Having an accurate architecture of the cell provides important insight for understanding how it becomes invasive in the human body. With this information we may learn how to stop disease progression."
 
 

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