Scientists have been spending nearly a decade trying to pin down the crystalline structure of an enzyme complex that bacteria such as anthrax, leprosy, diptheria, and tuberculosis use to replicate themselves.
A small team of researchers has used the brilliant X-rays of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory to pin down the crystalline structure of an enzyme complex that scientists had spent nearly a decade trying to resolve. Their discovery could lead to anti-microbial agents for a host of deadly bacteria, including anthrax, tuberculosis, leprosy and diphtheria.
These bacteria use the enzyme, called flavin-dependent thymidylate synthase (FDTS), to synthesize a nucleotide they need to produce DNA. Other organisms, including humans, rely on a different version of the enzyme to accomplish this vital process; and the two versions of the enzyme differ significantly enough that targeting the bacterial form via drug therapies should not interfere with the human enzyme’s work.
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