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How Bacteria Resist a 'Trojan Horse' Antibiotic

A new study describes how bacteria use a previously unknown means to defeat an antibiotic. The researchers found that the bacteria have modified a common "housekeeping" enzyme in a way that enables the enzyme to recognize and disarm the antibiotic.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bacteria often engage in chemical warfare with one another, and many antibiotics used in medicine are modeled on the weapons they produce. But microbes also must protect themselves from their own toxins. The defenses they employ for protection can be acquired by other species, leading to antibiotic resistance.

The researchers focused on an enzyme, known as MccF, that they knew could disable a potent "Trojan horse" antibiotic that sneaks into cells disguised as a tasty protein meal. The bacterial antibiotic, called microcin C7 (McC7) is similar to a class of drugs used to treat bacterial infections of the skin.
 
 

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