Keyword Tag Sort by


Categories: Gp2 Antibiotics T7 virus Proteins RNA Polymerase Bacteria

Researchers Take Early Step Towards Devising New Antibiotics

BBSRC-funded researchers have made the first step towards creating a new class of antibiotics in a study published last night in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists, from Imperial College London, have revealed the structure of a protein called Gp2. This protein is produced by the T7 virus, which only targets bacteria and which infects and kills them by interfering with the way in which they express genes.

Gp2 works by interfering with an essential enzyme in bacteria called the RNA Polymerase, which represents the central machinery that enables information contained in their genes to be “read”.  If the RNA Polymerase is unable to function, the bacteria cannot survive. Today’s is the first study to show the shape of a protein that is able to strongly inhibit RNA Polymerase and is derived from a virus.

The researchers behind today’s study hope that ultimately it will be possible to develop new drugs that mimic the structure and mode of action of Gp2 in order to combat bacterial infections.

There is already a group of clinically used antibiotics, known as rifamycin, which interfere with the RNA polymerase from bacteria, but against which many bacteria have developed resistance. Accordingly, the researchers hope that if new drugs can be devised that mimic Gp2, these will be less susceptible than existing antibiotics to antibiotic resistance, because they will work in a different way to the antibiotics that are currently available.

The next step for this research will be for scientists to identify small molecule mimics of Gp2 that can be used to create these drugs.

Today’s findings were the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from two cross-faculty groups at Imperial - the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection (CMMI) and the Centre for Structural Biology (CSB). The corresponding authors of the study, Dr Sivaramesh Wigneshweraraj from the Department of Microbiology in Medicine, together with Professor Stephen Matthews and Dr Ernesto Cota from the Department of Life Sciences in Natural Sciences, also worked closely with colleagues at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, and the Russian Academy of Science.

Dr Sivaramesh Wigneshweraraj, who conducted the analyses of how Gp2 interferes with the intricate functionalities of the bacterial RNA polymerase, said: “This work is at a very early stage but knowing the shape of viral proteins like Gp2 and how they operate represents an important first step towards creating new drugs against bacteria from viruses that infect and kill bacteria”.

Professor Steve Matthews, from the Centre for Structural Biology, whose group calculated the structure of the protein, said: ”Our collaboration not only provides the first atomic resolution insights into this potent inhibitor, but also provide a useful blueprint for future collaborations between the CSB and CMMI aimed at combating bacterial infections”

The study was supported by the BBSRC through a Fellowship to Dr Wigneshweraraj and a project grant to Professor Matthews, Dr Wigneshweraraj and Dr Cota.

Contact: Nancy Mendoza, Media Officer, Tel: 01793 413355, Email:

Source: The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Photos (1)  [ view all photos ]


The image shows Gp2 (in yellow) disrupting communication between the bacteria’s DNA (in dark red) and its RNA Polymerase (in green/black) (Imperial College London)

Related News:

Detour leads to antibiotic resistance 1 April 2014, 05:54
LMU researchers have used cryo-electron microscopic imaging to characterize the structural...

Protein that accelerates age, brakes cancer 11 August 2013, 12:57
Prelamin A protein causes accelerated ageing disorders and also prevents the spread of cancer...

Study IDs key protein for cell death 16 May 2013, 04:32
Findings may offer a new way to kill cancer cells by forcing them into an alternative...

Proteome atlas for the tuberculosis pathogen 16 May 2013, 04:22
Researchers from ETH Zurich have mapped the coordinates for all the proteins of the tuberculosis...

Stem Cells for Metastasis Found in Blood of Breast Cancer Patients 30 April 2013, 08:43
For the first time, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the National...

Mapping of cancer cell fuel pumps paves the way for new drugs 29 April 2013, 03:26
For the first time, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to obtain detailed images...

Parkin protects from neuronal cell death 4 March 2013, 03:25
LMU researchers identify a novel signal transduction pathway, which activates the parkin gene...

Two new genes linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and... 4 March 2013, 03:18
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ties mutations in two genes to the death of motor...

Researchers Identify New Protein Biomarkers for Type 2 Diabetes 11 February 2013, 03:34
Neuherberg. Three proteins that can be measured in plasma correlate with type 2 diabetes and are...

IU researchers uncover protein's job protecting... 28 January 2013, 08:37
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A team of chemists and biologists led by Indiana University chemistry...

Credits / Source:

The image shows Gp2 (in yellow) disrupting communication between the bacteria’s DNA (in dark red) and its RNA Polymerase (in green/black) (Imperial College London)