A new mechanism of defense against infections has been characterized by a team involving Toulouse University and scientists from CNRS, INSERM, and Pasteur Institute
Zinc, and other heavy metals such as copper, are involved in host defense against bacteria, including the tuberculosis bacillus. Macrophages phagocytose bacteria into a membrane-bound compartment called the "phagosome". We have found that zinc accumulates in such vacuoles and induces the expression of bacterial efflux pumps of the P-type ATPase family.
One of such pumps, namely CtpC, is involved in zinc detoxification in the tuberculosis bacillus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Genetic inactivation of CtpC results in an impaired intracellular growth of the microbe. This finding opens new avenues for treating infections.
Ref : P1-type ATPases mediate microbial resistance to zinc poisoning in human macrophages. Botella et al, Cell Host & Microbe 14 september 2011.
Contact : Olivier Neyrolles, firstname.lastname@example.org