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Carbohydrate synthesis sheds light on promising tuberculosis drug target

Working with components of the tuberculosis bacterium, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison identified an unusual process by which the pathogen builds an important structural carbohydrate. In addition to its implications for human health, the mechanism offers insight into a widespread but poorly understood basic biological function — controlling the length of carbohydrate polymers.

By providing insight into what may be a general mechanism for designing and building carbohydrates, the work opens up possibilities into developing new therapeutics against TB. The research team focused on an enzyme called GlfT2 that is responsible for building a critical carbohydrate component of the TB bacterial cell wall.

The GlfT2 enzyme is essential for bacterial survival and growth but has never yet been targeted by potential treatment methods. Knowing that the enzyme has two binding sites — one for each end of the growing carbohydrate — makes it an especially appealing candidate.

 
 

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