Scientists Find A New Protein that Can Help in Fighting Urinary Tract Infection

According to a new study published in AAAS Science journal, individuals who have a protein called uromodulin are more protected against urinary tract infections relative to those who lack this protein. The research findings reveal that the protein caters relieving properties and is presumed to have potential for treatment and prevention of painful inflammations due to urinary tract infections.

People who have had experienced cystitis are well aware of the complications and pain associated with these urinary tract infections. Yet, antibiotics are effective in alleviating these complications, if untreated, it may result in fatality. Typically, a bacterium named Uropathogenic E. coli auses te infection by binding to the cells of the bladder, ureter or urethra. But protection is at hand in the form of a certain protein, produced naturally in the body, called uromodulin, and hair like projections, altogether constitute the protection from foreign invaders.

Over 70% of individual exhibit the gene for protein uromodulin in their genome, meaning, they produce this protective protein in particularly large quantities. Accordingly, they have a smaller risk of contracting urinary tract infections. However, the exact underlying process how this protein prevents inflammation was not clear before.

Source: CDC

In this new study, a team from three research groups at ETH Zurich together with researchers from the University of Zurich and the Children’s Hospital Zurich, has filled this knowledge gap. They investigated the role, expression, and mechanism of uromodulin protein as well as explain how the protein neutralizes the effect caused by Uropathogenic E. coli. These research findings should help in developing new treatment strategies for the urinary tract infections in the future.

In the study, the researcher’s preliminary analysed the protein and determined its binding properties, how it binds to the bacterial hair like projections called pili at the molecular level.

“We already knew that a bond is formed and that this presumably plays a part in uromodulin’s protective function, but nobody had studied this in greater detail,” says Gregor Weiss, a doctoral student in molecular biology at ETH and one of the study’s lead authors.

He said the biochemical analyses of protein show that the bacterial pili recognise certain sugar chains on the surface of the uromodulin and bind to them rapidly and with strong affinity. Further, the team used an imaging technique called cryo-electron tomography to get a 3-D view of the protein, understanding its structure. The 3-D structure reveled that the protein constitutes a long fiber like filaments (strands), consisting an average of around 400 individual protein molecules strung together. This complex structure exhibits the sugar molecules required by bacterial hair like projection to bind to the protein.  characteristic pattern of sugar chains to which bacterial pili like to bind.

The researchers gave new insight into how to treat and forestall urinary tract diseases without utilizing anti-infection agents. Up to this point, patients have regularly been given treatments that contain the sugar mannose. Partially, these forestall the E. coli microscopic organisms causing infections, prevents them from joining to the cells of the urinary tract. In any case, the examination group’s investigations have now indicated that the bonds among bacteria and uromodulin are amazingly stable and can’t be separated by dynamic substances – a significant finding in the quest for solutions for serious urinary tract diseases.

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